A Macon attorney indicted on federal drug distribution charges was released on a $15,000 unsecured bond Monday afternoon.
The Aug. 11 indictment was unsealed Monday, charging 35-year-old Holly Hogue Edwards with three counts of distribution of oxycodone, a prescription pain medication, and on one count of distribution of oxycodone and methamphetamine.
Edwards, a criminal defense attorney, is accused of selling drugs to undercover agents, according to a Monroe County Sheriff’s Office news release.
Authorities pulled Edwards over in a traffic stop on Interstate 75 in Houston County about 8:30 a.m. Monday to serve an arrest warrant charging her in the case, according to the sheriff’s office.
An investigation began in early May after deputies learned Edwards might be “conducting illegal activities in Monroe County,” said sheriff’s office spokeswoman Allison Selman-Willis.
The probe revealed her involvement in the “use and distribution of illegal drugs,” according to the release.
The alleged incidents occurred in May and June, according to the indictment.
The sheriff’s office, federal Drug Enforcement Administration and GBI have worked the case.
Edwards, a lawyer admitted to practice in Georgia since 2005, was led into a courtroom at the federal courthouse Monday afternoon in downtown Macon for a first appearance hearing.
Dressed in a light blue patterned skirt suit with teal high heels, she wore handcuffs chained to her waist.
She appeared to have been crying.
Standing with a federal public defender at her side, Edwards nodded as a judge described her rights.
Magistrate Charles Weigle said his decision to appoint a public defender to represent Edwards was “a bit of a close call.”
He told Edwards the government can seek reimbursement for attorneys fees if it’s found that she has money to pay them.
Edwards pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Her lawyer, Jared Westbroek, argued in favor of his client being granted pretrial release, saying she isn’t a flight risk and has close ties to the community.
Weigle ordered set Edwards’ unsecured bond at $15,000 and restricted her travel to within Georgia unless she’s granted approval by the federal probation office. Probation officers supervise defendants in federal cases while they’re out on bond awaiting trial.
Edwards was released soon after the brief hearing. Westbroek declined comment.
Pamela W. Lightsey, public information officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Joe Wooten, special agent in charge of the GBI Milledgeville office, declined to release additional information about the case. A DEA representative could not be reached for comment.
According to Edwards’ law practice website, she opened her Macon law office in 2009. She recently was the attorney representing Melissa D. Zediker, a former employee of OrthoGeorgia who has been charged with theft for allegedly stealing nearly $100,000 from the clinic.
Georgia Bar Association online records don’t reflect any prior discipline issued against Edwards.
Bill Smith, ethics counsel for the Bar Association, said he couldn’t comment on Edwards’ case.
Speaking in general, he said an arrest doesn’t have an impact on a lawyer’s ability to practice law unless there’s an allegation other bar rules have been violated.
If a lawyer is convicted of a felony, the bar association asks the state Supreme Court to suspend the lawyer from practice until his or her appellate rights have expired. Smith said.
After that period, the bar typically asks the Supreme Court to disbar the attorney, he said.
Prior to opening her own law practice, Edwards worked as an assistant public defender for Houston County and as an associate attorney for Hogue & Hogue in Macon. She is a graduate of the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University.
Macon attorney Franklin J. Hogue said Edwards, his former daughter-in-law, was fired in August 2009 from the law firm he and his wife, Laura Hogue, operate. He said the termination was based on “an inability to work together.”
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559 or find her on Twitter@awomackmacon.