Ripley County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Joe “David” Pippin, 47, Napoleon, was charged with six counts of acquiring a controlled substance by deceit, a Class D felony, Dec. 18, according to Ripley County prosecuting attorney Ric Hertel.
An Indiana State Police investigation revealed that Pippin acquired and filled prescriptions for hydrocodone, a Schedule II controlled substance, from five separate medical practitioners at multiple pharmacies in less than a two-year period without disclosing that he was already currently prescribed hydrocodone, a highly addictive, well-known opiate-based drug of abuse.
According to the probable cause affidavit, filed by ISP Detective Sean Clemons, Pippin’s prescription drug use was brought to the attention of law enforcement by his ex-sister-in-law. Doctor’s office and pharmacy records were used by law enforcement to verify his prescription drug use.
The affidavit states that in one 55-day period in 2012, “Pippin filled prescriptions for 494 hydrocodone pills .... (and) in a 57-day period in 2013, Pippin filled prescriptions for 424 hydrocodone pills. In total, from Aug. 25, 2011, to July 12, 2013, Pippin filled prescriptions for 2,825 hydrocodone pills. Multiple practitioners told investigators that had they known Pippin was already prescribed hydrocodone, they would not have prescribed ... (him) additional hydrocodone.”
According to the document, “the deputy told investigators that he didn’t view himself as a ‘doctor shopper,’ but the records indicating prescriptions by multiple practitioners filled at multiple pharmacies might suggest otherwise. Pippin stated that he did not want people knowing that he was taking hydrocodone, and it was his ‘dirty little secret,’ Hertel said.
Hertel stated that prescription drug abuse has become an increasing issue in the county and the enforcement of prescription drug abuse is serious wherever it is discovered. He complimented the ISP “and their professionalism in their investigation of this sensitive matter.”
Sheriff Tom Grills said Pippin “turned himself immediately into the Ripley County Jail after being notified there had been a warrant issued in this investigation .... He posted bond for $1,050 and was released.” The deputy will be placed on administrative leave with pay, pending an internal investigation/review, Grills said.
“It is unfortunate this incident has come to light. I am somewhat shocked about this since I just drug tested myself and all my employees, including David, in September ... through the health department. David passed a 12-panel drug screen,” Grills revealed.
The 11-year chief deputy’s personnel file contains no disciplinary actions since his affiliation began in 1995 with the sheriff’s office, according to the sheriff.
“While Pippin has been arrested, this incident has no bearing on the operation of the sheriff’s office. Our office will still run the way it has been. I am not going to get involved. I trust the attorneys and judges will handle it. We, the sheriff’s office, are not immune to this type of activity, and neither is any other agency.
Grills continued, “People need to understand police officers are humans, and they still have the same types of issues other citizens go through, whether financial, domestic or addictions. I have always told my staff if they need anything, professionally or personally, to let me know and we will work through it together. We will let the courts handle this complaint as it should .... Usually special prosecutors are appointed in these types of cases. We’ll see what happens.”
He added, ““I just want proper, firm and fair treatment of everyone. That is our job in the justice system .... I am not condoning David Pippin’s alleged behavior, or anyone else’s improper behavior. The prescription pill problem in this country needs to be addressed.
“I have worked in law enforcement for the last 16 years to accomplish public trust in the sheriff’s office and will continue to work toward that. This incident will not hold me back from continuing to do my job, or leading the sheriff’s office to operate in an effective and efficient manner. I am going to continue to fight crime and corruption.”
Diane Raver can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.