News and Press Releases

Conspirators Broke into Pharmacies Throughout the Northwest and West Coast

July 6, 2007

KENNETH D. GRAHAM, 28, of Marysville, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 65 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $118,000 in restitution to pharmacies in connection with a scheme to burglarize pharmacies within a four State area and to sell prescription narcotics stolen from the pharmacies. GRAHAM pleaded guilty on February 16, 2007 to Conspiring With Others to Burglarize Pharmacies (Count 1), Burglarizing Pharmacies (Count 2), and Distribution of Oxycodone (Count 3). Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik recommended GRAHAM for an intensive Bureau of Prisons drug treatment program.

According to court documents, GRAHAM admitted joining with several other Snohomish County men in a conspiracy to burglarize pharmacies within a four State area, including Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and California. Over a two-year period more than fifty pharmacies were burglarized by the group. During that time period nighttime pharmacy burglaries increased in the State of Washington exponentially, and Washington led the country in the number of such burglaries.

As part of his guilty plea, GRAHAM acknowledged playing a principal role in at least seven of those burglaries, involving pharmacies in Caldwell, Idaho, Redding and Davis, California, Medford and Sutherlin, Oregon, and Monroe and Richland, Washington.

The burglaries were committed during the late evening/early morning hours, when the pharmacy was closed for business. Typically, one of the co-conspirators would cut the telephone lines leading to the pharmacy to disable the remote alarm. One or more burglars would then break into the pharmacy and locate the stocks of controlled substances, while another co-conspirator acted as a lookout outside. The co-conspirators would remain in touch with one another via cellular phones. Drugs regularly removed from the pharmacies included the pharmacy’s inventory of pills, injectables, patches, and medications, containing oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, morphine, meperidine, fentanyl, and amphetamines, among other Schedule II and III controlled substances.

GRAHAM’s role during these burglaries, included selecting the pharmacy to be burgled, cutting the telephone lines, breaking into the pharmacy, locating and removing drugs, and distributing these drugs to others, all of which he did in return for the money earned through this unlawful conduct.

The drugs were distributed to a number of individuals through an established network in Snohomish County.

Other Snohomish County individuals have already been sentenced in United States District Court for their roles in the pharmacy burglaries. James Phillips, 24, was sentenced to 27 months in prison, Michael Hinkle, 39, was sentenced to 21 months in prison, and Jeremy Swanson, 30, was sentenced to 12 months in prison. Thus far, 12 individuals have pleaded guilty to participating in burglaries in furtherance of the scheme.

Selling the stolen drugs can net an illicit profit of $100,000 to $200,000 per burglary. This is due to the extreme premium for which these drugs sell in an illicit market, well in excess of the wholesale cost to the pharmacy of the drugs. These drugs are consumed by addicts and others, posing harm to themselves and society in general. A recent 2006 Washington State study cites the escalating number of overdoses resulting in death from the unrestricted use of pharmaceutical controlled substances, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine.

This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (NW HIDTA), the Marysville, Washington Police Department, the Redding, California Police Department, Sutherlin, Oregon Police Department, Richland, Washington Police Department, and Monroe, Washington Police Department.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ronald J. Friedman.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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