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Accused child abusers now face prescription forgery charges

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

The Lovejoy parents accused of starving their twin infants are now facing additional, drug-related charges.

James Alvin McCart, III, 23, and Tessa Zelek, 23, were each charged with six felony counts of criminal attempt to obtain prescription drugs by fraud, according to Clayton County police.

McCart and Zelek allegedly tried to forge six prescriptions for oxycontin, percocet and methadone, said Capt. Greg Dickens. All three prescription drugs are tablet-form, opiate-based pain relievers, which are addictive and restricted under state and federal law. When sold illegally, the drugs are known as "hillbilly heroin," Dickens said.

Clayton County police found bottles of the drugs in the couple's 31 La Costa Drive residence when they arrested McCart and Zelek on charges they had failed to feed their twin, 13-month-old boys. The infants were taken by relatives to Egleston Children's Health Care of Atlanta on Nov. 20, when McCart and Zelek were found unconscious and unresponsive. The two infants were allegedly found malnourished, skeletal, and suffering serious medical problems resulting from a lack of nourishment.

Health care officials told police the 13-month-olds suffered brain atrophy, and have the mental development on the level of 2- or 3-month-old children.

Taken to Henry Medical Center, McCart tested positive for cocaine. Zelek refused to take a drug test.

Police suspected the couple had "serious problems with drug use," Dickens said. After arresting the two 23-year-olds last week on charges of child neglect and cruelty to children, detectives continued their investigation into possible drug use. According to warrants filed with the Clayton County court, the investigation revealed McCart and Zelek had forged a series of prescriptions, using a doctors' Drug Enforcement Agency code number to attempt to gain access to drugs.

They are now facing six additional felony charges each.

Detective William Clendenen said the parents, when asked about the infant's condition, "both pointed the fingers are each other, both said it was the other one's fault,"

The boys have been placed in the custody of the Department of Family and Children Services, and remained in the hospital on Tuesday.