Former SCCPSS Interim Assistant Principal pleads guilty to oxycodone distribution offenses

Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 11:31 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A former Savannah-Chatham County Public School System employee has plead guilty to oxycodone distribution offenses involving a Montgomery, Alabama physician.

Melodie Donne Armer Cheatham, 38, plead guilty on August 26, 2021, according to the United States Attorney’s Office Middle District of Alabama. Cheatham was among a group of 11 to plead guilty to the offenses.

Cheatham was employed with SCCPSS from 2015 to 2022 when she resigned.

Her employment history is listed below:

9/10/15 - 7/27/16Haven ElementaryBehavior Intervention Teacher
7/28/16 – 7/27/17Thunderbolt (moved with school closure)Academic Coach
7/28/17 – 7/26/18School of Humanities at JG LowAcademic Coach
7/27/18 – 7/21/19Hodge ElementaryAcademic Coach
7/22/19 – 6/30/20Academic Affairs - Transformation SchoolPersonalized Learning Specialist
7/1/20 – 12/8/21MyersAcademic Coach
12/9/21 – 4/11/22BrockInterim Assistant Principal

SCCPSS released a statement on Friday regarding Cheatham’s employment with the school system.

“This individual is no longer employed with the school district. During the time that Melodie Cheatham was employed with the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, she had no employee infractions and there is no information to support that any of the actions with which she is charged took place in our school setting. District employees are held to high standards and we expect further actions may be taken by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. We are deeply disappointed in this behavior and do not condone any actions that place the students or staff of our district at risk.”

We spoke with Keith Green who says he went to the school when it was called Bartow Elementary and has nieces, nephews and a godchild attending Brock now.

“I’m kind of devastated like this has a history of real love, like the teachers in this school the don’t just like love you, they genuinely love you in real life so I’m kind of throwed of on that one,” Green said.

The situation pushes Green to be more aware of who’s around his loved ones.

“I’m going to be taking time myself to make sure that I take the time to ask them questions just to figure out what’s actually going on,” Green said.

According to court documents, the 11 defendants agreed among themselves and with others to obtain illegitimate and unlawful prescriptions for oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance, signed by a Montgomery, Alabama physician, Dr. D’Livro Lemat Beauchamp.

Documents say in many cases, this was facilitated through a third-party without actually going to the physician’s office. The defendants would then fill those prescriptions at pharmacies located in and around Montgomery, give the oxycodone tablets to organizers of the conspiracy, and collect payment.

Additionally, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says the organizers of the conspiracy and Beauchamp agreed that Beauchamp would receive $350 per unlawful prescription he signed. Statements made at the various plea hearings, indicated that defendants Daughtry and Rogers were among the organizers of the conspiracy. The scheme operated from 2012 until April of 2020. However, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says each defendant did not necessarily participate for all or even most of that period.

In total, the 11 defendants unlawfully obtained, possessed with the intent to distribute, and, in most cases, did distribute, approximately 38,780 30-milligram oxycodone tablets, which is equal to 1,163,400 milligrams of the drug.

For his part in the scheme, on October 20, 2020, Dr. Beauchamp pleaded guilty to the same offense. Likewise, on March 30, 2021, another one of the organizers, Deandre Varnel Gross, entered a guilty plea.

The names of the 11 defendants and when they pleaded guilty is listed below:

July 16, 2021- Joseph Anthony Coleman, 37, of Montgomery, Alabama.

August 3, 2021- Kambria Symone Robinson, 29, of Atlanta, Georgia.

August 4, 2021- Rubin Sanders, 30, of Atlanta, Georgia.

August 5, 2021- Towanna Lorrell Chapman, 36, of Montgomery, Alabama.

August 5, 2021- Jamal Anthony Thomas, 37, of Montgomery, Alabama.

August 24, 2021- Maurice Daughtry, 38, of Marietta, Georgia.

August 26, 2021- Melodie Donne Armer Cheatham, 38, of Savannah, Georgia.

August 30, 2021- Carlos D’Angelo Jones, 34, of Memphis, Tennessee.

August 30, 2021- Garren Charles Rogers, 35, of Houston, Texas.

September 1, 2021- Geniece Chadell Maxon, 33, of Lynwood, Illinois.

September 1, 2021- Robert Lee Thompson, 32, of Madison, Alabama.

“It is disturbing how so many are willing to jeopardize the well-being of the community simply to make a few extra dollars,” stated Acting United States Attorney Stewart. “The drugs distributed through the work of this conspiracy were powerful opioids, capable of destroying lives and families. We will never be able to account for the harm caused by the collective action of this group. I am glad that, after many years and many pills pouring into our communities, these defendants are being held to account for their actions.”

“Those who choose to violate laws designed to ensure the safe and legal dispensation of pharmaceutical drugs will not escape the scrutiny of DEA by attempting to hide criminal activity and placing unbridled greed before health and safety,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Towanda Thorne-James.

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