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Jurisdiction questioned in forgery case

Published 10:24 am Friday, June 13, 2014

A Tallulah physician whose home in Vicksburg was raided by narcotics agents in 2011 is attempting to prove Warren County has no jurisdiction in the prescription forgery case against him and his live-in girlfriend. 

Dr. Lawrence Francis Chenier III, 61, who lives in Vicksburg but has a medical practice in Tallulah, appeared in court this week attempting to have 74 counts of prescription fraud and a conspiracy charge against him dismissed because of jurisdictional issues.

Defense attorney Marshall Sanders argued that if the prescriptions were written in Louisiana, Mississippi Courts had no authority over the case.

The issue could only be solved through testimony from Chenier’s co-defendant, Patti Carr, who is accused of picking up 13,000 pills of the prescription painkillers hydrocodone and Lyrica using prescriptions from Chenier, sanders said.

All those pills were picked up at a Vicksburg pharmacy, which Assistant District Attorney Lane Campbell said is enough to give jurisdiction to Mississippi courts.

“She feels like the truth cannot be had before this court unless she testifies. That’s what she told me,” Sanders said during the hearing.

Circuit Judge M. James Chaney refused to allow Carr to testify, saying that her testimony had no relevance to jurisdiction. Instead he gave Sanders until 10 a.m. today to present case law supporting his claim.

Carr appeared in the courtroom with her attorney John Bullard but never took the stand. After the hearing, she followed Chaney into the hallway outside the courtroom and asked to testify as he walked away.

“I have advised Miss Carr not to testify in the hearing,” Bullard said.

Carr had a petition to plead guilty pending in Circuit Court, Bullard said, and he told her that testimony could be incriminating.

“If she wants to waive her rights about self-incrimination, she should be able to testify,” Sanders said.

Carr previously told sheriff’s deputies that at least some of the prescriptions were written in Warren County, investigator Chris Satcher said during the hearing.

“She stated that he would write prescriptions at his office or come home on his lunch break and write her prescriptions in his home,” Satcher said.

More than 300 empty pill bottles were found inside the home at 100 Colonial Drive, Satcher said.

In January 2012, District Attorney Ricky Smith filed a civil suit seeing to seize the couple’s home on Colonial Drive.

The house and land, valued at less than $200,000 according to the suit, are subject to forfeiture because of having been used to facilitate violation of the Mississippi Uniform Controlled Substances Law.

Warren County land rolls value the house and land at $177,450.

The suit is still open before Warren County Judge Johnny Price.

Chenier is still listed on the roster of Madison Parish Hospital, according to the hospital’s website, however, the state of Louisiana has placed his medical license on probation. The Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners lists Chenier’s license as active but limited.

He received his medical degree in 1980 at Meharry Medical College in Nashville and has been in practice since 1982, records show.