A Wrightsville Beach resident has pled guilty to possession of a prescription painkiller after being charged with trafficking the drug last year.
Thomas Jason Popkin, 40, of Wrightsville Beach, pled guilty on Aug. 21, 2018 to six counts of possession of oxycodone. The plea comes after Popkin was charged in March 2018 with ten counts each of trafficking in heroin or opium and obtaining a controlled substance by forgery or fraud by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. Oxycodone is listed as a Schedule II controlled substance. Popkin was sentenced to 12 months probation, 80 hours of community service, a $200 fine along with court costs, and requirements to submit to drug screening.
According to the SBI, a pharmacist in New Bern in January 2017 told investigators that he believed that numerous prescriptions in Popkin’s name were potentially fraudulent.
Investigators found that Popkin, a medical sales representative, had a business and personal relationship with Tyler Kenneth Hagan, a practitioner at Carolina Foot and Ankle Care in New Bern.
The SBI determined Dr. Hagan’s prescriptions, from Carolina Foot and Ankle Care, were being used by Popkin to obtain Oxycodone fraudulently. No legitimate doctor-patient relationship existed between the two, the SBI said.
After the investigation, Popkin was charged in February of 2018 with 10 counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud in addition to 10 counts of trafficking opioids by possession. Dr. Hagan pled guilty to misdemeanor obstruction of justice.
In March 2018, an SBI official told Lumina News that Wrightsville Beach police did not have any record of overdoses, distribution or other problems associated with the type of pills Popkin was charged with possessing.
Popkin is recognizable to many Wrightsville Beach residents for his frequent walks around the John Nesbitt Loop, often with dogs and always in Duke University clothing.