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Braselton man sentenced in oxycodone conspiracy

ATLANTA -- A Braselton man was among 13 people around metro Atlanta sentenced this week who took part in a conspiracy to possess and sell more than 30,000 oxycodone pills.

Justin Howard, 30, was sentenced to three years of probation in federal court on Monday after federal authorities said the group manufactured prescriptions and recruited others to pass forged prescriptions of the powerful and extremely addictive prescription painkiller.

The mastermind of the operation, Kristen Noelle Goduto, 29, of Marietta, was sentenced to 14 years in prison and five years of supervised release.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said the prescriptions appeared to be legitimate and would often be filled without question because Goduto would either replace the doctor's office number with her cellphone number so she could respond to calls to verify the prescriptions, or she kept the doctor's number but had the prescriptions passed on nights and weekends when the doctor's office was closed. For one doctor, she recruited an employee in the doctor's office to falsely verify the prescriptions.

All of the defendants pleaded guilty to the charges against them.

"The sharp increase in the distribution of pain pills for non-medical reasons continues to be a major concern," said Harry S. Sommers, the special agent in charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration. "(The) DEA and its local law enforcement counterparts will continue to target those who traffic these addictive pain medications."