HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Three of the four men accused of being involved in a federal prescription drug ring were in court Thursday. Joshua Locke, Robert Thornton II and John Mattina all pleaded not guilty and asked to be let out of jail.
The United States Attorney's Office recommended Robert Thornton II be held in jail without court until his May 12, 2014 trial. The prosecution called to the stand an investigator with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics to testify why Thornton should not be allowed bail.
The investigator told the judge Joshua Locke was the mastermind of the whole operation. MBN officials believe Locke went to Dr. Sanjay Sinha and asked him to write prescriptions for money.
During the three year investigation, investigators believe Locke, Thornton and Mattina would recruit customers who had some sort of pain to come to their homes and get prescriptions from Dr. Sanjay Sinha. Sinha, who is from Georgia, would visit South Mississippi four to six times a year. Officials say Sinha and Locke met at the casino where Locke worked.
Even when Sinha was back home in Georgia, agents said he would send prescriptions through the mail and the alleged customers would wire money to the doctor. Investigators believe Sinha received $100 for every prescription he wrote and they said he wrote several hundred prescriptions for local customers. Also in court, an agent testified that Sinha does not have a Mississippi medical license. Sometimes investigators say Sinha would change the dates on the prescriptions he would mail so it looked like the customers may have gone to his Georgia clinic.
Officials say Locke, Thornton and Mattina would receive cash and prescriptions in exchange for recruiting customers for Sinha.
On February 3, 2012 Thornton was arrested on state charges for possession of a prescription with the intent to sell. Investigators said they were keeping a close eye on Thornton and when he was seen leaving a home where officials believe drug deals went on, he was pulled over and arrested.
Thornton is currently out on bond for that charge. The assistant district attorney told the court he wants to revoke Thornton's bond now that he has been arrested on other charges. When Thornton was arrested this week, officials also seized several guns and a small amount of marijuana from his Biloxi home.
Another reason the judge decided Thornton will remain in jail until trial is because investigators say Thornton has a charter boat that he often takes to Mexico.
Trial for Thornton, Mattina and Locke is set for May 12th. The judge set bond at $100,000 for Mattina. Locke is expected to be released in the next several days to an inpatient drug rehab.
Sinha is expected to be in Biloxi next week to make an initial court appearance on his federal charges.