Suspect in pharmacy arson facing prescription drug charges

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  Local narcotics agents call 27-year-old Bobby Jo Burkett a known drug dealer of prescription medications.

When members of the Metro Narcotics Task Force searched his Columbus home days before he was arrested in connection with the River Road Pharmacy arson, they say they found drug paraphernalia and six empty pill bottles for oxcodone and oxycontin.

In Recorder's Court Wednesday, a special agent with the drug unit told the judge Burkett had been "doctor shopping"- allegedly visiting local doctors on both sides of the river and getting multiple prescriptions for hundreds of the pain medications in the same time period.

"He was originally in a car accident. There's no evidence from any doctors that he did anything improper," said his attorney, Mark Shelnutt, after the proceedings.

At this point, Columbus Fire and EMS officials can't say if Burkett's new drug charge is related to the pharmacy arson that injured three firefighters and destroyed the business back in September. They say the case is still under investigation.

"There hasn't been anything that I've heard at all to connect Bobby Jo Burkett, Kay Burkett or Mister Lowery to an arson at the River Road Pharmacy. None. The only evidence is from unnamed supposed witnesses and a shadow. There's been nothing to establish any motive or connection," Shelnutt added.

A Recorder's Court judge found probable cause in Burkett's drug case and it's been bound over to Muscogee County Superior Court.

The judge set a $5000 bond.

Authorities say Burkett faces a similar charge in Alabama.

That's in addition to his arson charges. He has pled not guilty to all of his charges.

In the meantime, he is being held in the Muscogee County Jail.

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