3 in court for Sparta pharmacy drug fraud scheme

Lavell Butler, Roberto House, Jermaine Traylor
Left to right: Lavelle Butler, Roberto House and Jermaine Traylor's mug shots from the Kent County Correctional Facility Feb. 13, 2017.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two of three suspects accused in a phone call fraud scheme to illegally obtain prescription drugs are going to trial.

Roberto House and Lavelle Butler waived their preliminary exams in a Grand Rapids courtroom Monday afternoon, sending their cases to circuit court.

A third suspect, Jermaine Traylor agreed to a plea deal. Traylor pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of possessing marijuana, driving with a suspended license and providing a false ID. In turn, the felony prescription drug fraud charges against him were dropped.

Sparta police said the men called the Sparta Family Fare Pharmacy from out of state, posing as a doctor from Arkansas who wanted controlled substances. Police said the poor quality of the call was a hallmark of phone number spoofing apps.

Sparta, pharmacy
The pharmacy in Sparta where three suspects allegedly tried to get prescription drugs using a fake prescription. (Feb. 13, 2017)

The call raised a red flag for the pharmacist, who contacted police. Officers told the pharmacist to say the prescription was ready and waiting.

Police say one of the suspects went into the Family Fare to pick up the prescription on Friday, but got nervous when he had to wait and left.

He didn’t get very far. He and his companions were stopped by officers a short time after leaving the pharmacy.

Officers say the suspects, who have ties to the Chicago area, tried their scheme all along Michigan’s west coast. Police found empty bottles of similar drugs in the suspects’ vehicle. They don’t know if drugs were for personal use or resale.

Traylor is expected back in court for sentencing March 1.