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Former Pharmacy Technician Sentenced for Stealing Narcotics

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 30, 2013

Eugene, Ore. - Denise Richardson, 47, of Roseburg, Oregon, was sentenced to prison for stealing narcotics from the Roseburg Veteran's Affairs Hospital. Richardson is a former pharmacy technician at the Veteran's Affairs Hospital. Chief U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken sentenced Richardson to 24 months in prison and ordered her to pay restitution in the amount of $23,475.23, the amount the VA spent purchasing the narcotics.

After an investigation by the VA OIG and DEA, Richardson was charged with theft of government property for stealing the narcotics. Sentencing documents noted that Richardson had been a pharmacy technician for approximately 18 years and had access to pharmaceuticals including controlled narcotics like Oxycontin, Oxycodone, and Zolpidem (Ambien). Defendant discovered a way to manipulate the system used to track and dispense narcotics at the VA hospital and used it to divert drugs for her personal use and to provide to friends and/or family. Based on review of the pharmacy records, from approximately January 2010 until June 2011, defendant stole over 6000 pills of Oxycodone, Clonazepam, Zolpidem and Oxycontin from the VA pharmacy that cost the VA $23,475.23. The narcotics had a street value of approximately $250,000, but there is no evidence that defendant ever sold them.

Amanda Marshall, U. S. Attorney for the District of Oregon said "Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, and Oregon has the second-highest rate of opioid drug abuse in the nation. This defendant's diversion of a dangerous drug put countless lives at risk. Our office is committed to prosecuting theft from government agencies, particularly by employees who steal drugs and destroy lives."

Michael E. Seitler, Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Northwest Field Office, said "Maintaining the integrity of VA's delivery of healthcare to veterans is a critical issue for the OIG. We will continue to aggressively work with the US Attorney's Office, and our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who abuse the VA system for personal gain are brought to justice."

The VA OIG operates a toll-free hotline for anyone to anonymously report fraud, waste, or abuse. The Hotline can be reached at 1-800-488-8244 or via email at vaoighotline@va.gov.

This investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division and the Drug Enforcement Administration and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy E. Potter.

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