A University of Georgia professor turned himself in to the Clarke County Jail Friday morning after he was charged by UGA police for allegedly asking a student to obtain drugs for him.
Wednesday, four arrest warrants were signed for Charles Eugene Lance, a psychology professor, charging him with one misdemeanor count of attempting to obtain regulated drugs illegally. He was also charged with three misdemeanor counts of not keeping drugs in their original containers, police said.
Lance's bond was set at $500 for each of the three charges of drugs not in an original container and $2,500 for the obtaining illegal drug charge. He was booked at 11:20 a.m.
The charges against Lance were made when a student told police Lance gave her $120 in cash and asked her to obtain a "regulated dangerous drug" illegally while the student was visiting Mexico, police said in the report. He did not have a prescription for the drug, police said.
UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said a student told police that during a class the week before spring break, Lance asked students what their plans were for the next week. It came up that the student would be going to Mexico.
“Lance said ‘Oh, then you can get me this drug,' and he talked about the drug. And you know everybody in the class kind of laughed, thought he was joking around, but it was kind of awkward for everyone,” Williamson said.
Williamson said the student went to Lance’s office a couple days later to drop off an assignment, and Lance told her he wasn’t kidding about her getting him the drug. Lance then wrote down the name of the drug and gave her the prescription bottle for the drug and the money to buy it.
“You’ve got to think about all the pressures that were put on her,” Williamson said. "First of all, he’s a professor, he has control over her, and he’s in a position of authority. He asked her to buy drugs for him. And even though it’s prescription drugs, it’s illegal for her to obtain them because the prescription is not for her. It’s not like a friend that says 'Hey, can you do something?' She can easily say no to a friend. It’s hard to say no to that professor.”
Williamson said after the student deliberated with what to do, she told another UGA faculty member. The faculty member then contacted the Office of Legal Affairs who then reported it to UGA police.
UGA police searched Lance's office and found a number of loose pills not in their original containers.
Lance has been suspended without pay at UGA, Williamson said.
Lance's attorney, Elizabeth M. Grant, refutes that the drugs involved were dangerous controlled substances, according to her statement.
"The charges made in this case involve common prescription drugs and are not controlled substances," Grant wrote in a statement.
Grant said the charges involving not keeping drugs in an original container are common because most Georgians don't know it is illegal to store drugs out of their original prescription bottles.
Of the drugs found in Lance's office not in their original containers, one (Donepezil) is commonly used to treat Alzheimer's and the other two (Amlodipine Besylae and Benazepril and Losartan) are commonly used to treat high blood pressure.
"I have reviewed the criminal charges and am prepared to vigorously defend all allegations that Dr. Lance attempted to obtain medication by fraud or deceit," Grant wrote.
Lance was teaching Psychometrics, Industrial-Organizational Psychology and a master's thesis course this semester, according to the Office of the Registrar.
"Dr. Lance is saddened, and regretful for these recent events. He looks forward to the opportunity to present his defense in court," Grant wrote.
Grant also said he plans on appealing his suspension from UGA.
A UGA official was first notified by the student and told the UGA police department on March 17.
Lance was unable to be reached for comment by The Red & Black Thursday.