River Road Pharmacy fire suspect indicted on drug charges

One of the men linked by authorities to the River Road Pharmacy fire was indicted Tuesday on drug charges.

A Muscogee County grand jury indicted Bobby Jo Burkett, 27, on charges of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and Violation of the Georgia Controlled Substance Act.

Burkett — along with his mother, Lillian Burkett, 50, and Michael Lowery, 30 — face charges in connection with the Sept. 27 fire of River Road Pharmacy, 5100 River Road, that destroyed the building.

Authorities arrested Bobby Jo Burkett in March, and he’s been in the Muscogee County Jail since then without bond, said his defense attorney, Mark Shelnutt, in a court filing.

The indictment states that Bobby Jo Burkett got Oxycodone from one doctor when he already had a similar medicine from another doctor. It also alleges that he possessed the controlled substance.

“What he hasn’t been indicted for is all these other cases,” Shelnutt added.

Prosecutors want Burkett’s probation revoked on the drug accusations. Burkett pleaded guilty in January to a drug charge and was sentenced to 12 years’ probation. If a judge were to find that he violated terms of his probation, he could put Burkett behind bars for up to eight years.

A judge declined to revoke Burkett’s probation at a July 26 hearing, stating in an order that he would defer his decision until after a trial on the drug charges. Shelnutt filed a motion asking for a bond on Burkett’s behalf two days later.

Assistant District Attorney LaRae Moore said she intends to tell a judge about Tuesday’s indictment at a bond hearing next week. Whether the judge decides to decline giving a bond on that information is up to him.

“My position is that he was already out on probation for another case,” Moore said. “I don’t think he’s a good candidate (for bond).”

A co-defendant in the arson case, 30-year-old Michael Lowery, had his probation revoked in May on drug charges. He was sent to the Muscogee County Prison for 12 months.

Lillian Burkett is out on bond.

Related stories from Columbus Ledger-Enquirer