LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Officers with the Lufkin Police Department arrested Denman Avenue Baptist Church's family pastor Monday in connection to allegations that he committed prescription fraud to obtain pain medication normally used for dogs.
Eric Thomas Garland, 30, of Lufkin, was booked in to the Angelina County Jail on a third-degree felony prescription fraud charge. He was released later Monday after he posted a bail amount of $5,000.
The Denman Avenue Baptist Church web site lists Garland as the church's family pastor.
"Eric Garland was placed on administrative leave by the Personnel Committee immediately upon learning of his prescription drug addiction," a statement from the church said. "At this time, Eric has been relieved of all pastoral duties and responsibilities and is now facing the consequences of this addiction."
The statement from the church said Garland's "church family" at DABC will be praying for Garland and his family as he starts the road to recovery and begins his voluntary rehab.
"The DABC family is heartbroken for Eric and his family and will continue to love and support this young family as they go down this difficult road," the statement said.
According to the arrest affidavit, Garland obtained a canine pain medication called Tramadol through "misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge."
A Lufkin PD detective was contacted by a local veterinarian who wanted to speak to someone about a possible prescription fraud on May 31. When the LPD detective spoke to the veterinarian, the vet told him that he has prescribed 210 tablets of Tramadol to Garland since March.
The vet also told the Lufkin PD detective that Garland told him the medication was for a chocolate Labrador retriever named Bayla because the dog had back leg pain, the affidavit stated.
The veterinarian told the detective he first saw Garland on March 17 and that he prescribed him 30 Tramadol tablets, 30 Rimadyl, and two Bravecto, the affidavit stated. Then, on March 20, Garland allegedly called the veterinary clinic on March 20 and said that he had lost the Tramadol, so the vet prescribed 30 more Tramadol tablets.
According to the affidavit, the vet told the Lufkin PD detective that Garland came back on April 6 and April 18 and was prescribed 30 more Tramadol tablets each time. When Garland came back to the veterinary clinic on May 17, he got a prescription for 60 Tramadol tablets, the affidavit stated.
The veterinarian told the LPD detective that on May 31, he spoke to a veterinarian at the Lone Star Veterinary Clinic. During their conversation, a vet there brought up the fact that Garland had been to his clinic numerous times recently.
After that, the veterinarian contacted vets at Pineywoods Veterinary and the West Loop Animal Clinic. The vets he spoke to at those clinics also said that Garland had been by numerous times to get Tramadol prescriptions, the affidavit stated.
When the LPD detective spoke to the veterinarian at Pineywoods Veterinary, that vet said Garland brought in Bayla, his chocolate Lab, on May 12 and said the dog had a history of a back leg fracture and also said he suspected one of the dog's front shoulders was injured as well, the affidavit stated.
The second veterinarian told the Lufkin PD detective that he prescribed 50 Tramadol and Rimadyl to Garland, the affidavit stated. Three days later, Garland allegedly called the vet at Pineywoods Veterinary and said that his wife had thrown the Tramadol away when she cleaned off the kitchen counter, and he got another refill.
On May 25, Garland called the vet at Pineywoods again and said that he had given his dog all the Tramadol and requested another refill, the affidavit stated. The veterinarian told the LPD detective that he refused to refill the prescription.
On the same day, Garland allegedly took Bayla to the West Loop Animal Clinic, where he told the vet there his dog had pain in front leg, the affidavit stated. Staff at the vet clinic noticed an old scar on the dog's back leg, and Garland explained the dog had surgery on it, and she had a pin in it.
On May 30, Garland allegedly called the West Loop Animal Clinic again. An employee at the clinic told the Lufkin PD detective that Garland told her it had been storming over the weekend at the lake house he was staying at and the medication "got washed out in a bag," the affidavit stated.
When the employee at the West Loop Animal Clinic contacted Garland's old vet clinic in Kingwood, an employee told her that he had asked for several refills of Tramadol and had a different excuse every time, the affidavit stated.
Later, the Lufkin PD detective spoke to a vet at Lone Star Veterinary, and that vet told him Garland brought in a black Lab named Petey on March 23, and he prescribed him 50 Tramadol, the affidavit stated. The next day, Garland allegedly called the clinic back and asked for another refill because he had lost the medication. On that occasion, the vet only gave him 10 Tramadol tablets.
The affidavit went on to list other occasions Garland got refills at Lone Star Veterinary.
On May 31, the Lufkin PD detective sent a request to the Commissioned Online Prescription System for Garland's prescription history from June 2016 to May of 2017 and found that Garland was prescribed about 1,037 Tramadol tablets between June 1, 2016, and June 6, 2017.
"Prescription drug addiction is a national epidemic," the statement from Denman Avenue Baptist Church said. "The church is made up of all walks of people and as we have been reminded is not isolated from addictions or other unwise circumstances ordinary people face day to day. The church family at Denman is here to provide the love and support that can only be found through faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to all people in our community."