News and Press Releases

Conspirators Broke into Pharmacies In Northwest and West Coast

July 11, 2007

MICHAEL MCCONNELL, 26, of Everett, Washington, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to pharmacy burglary in connection with a scheme to burglarize pharmacies and sell prescription narcotics in the Pacific Northwest. Pharmacy burglary is a felony offense punishable by up to twenty years imprisonment and a two hundred fifty thousand dollar fine.

MCCONNELL was one of a number of Snohomish County men who banded together to burglarize pharmacies over a 4-State area, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California, between 2004 and 2006. In particular, MCCONNELL admitted joining with another individual, Jeremy Swanson, in burglarizing a Pharmacy Express located in Cave Junction, Oregon, during August 2004.

Court documents indicate MCCONNELL traveled with Swanson from Everett, Washington to Cave Junction, Oregon, where they committed the burglary during the early morning hours of August 7, 2004. The telephone lines leading to the pharmacy were cut to disable the pharmacy’s remote alarm. Swanson then broke into the pharmacy while MCCONNELL acted as a “lookout” to detect possible police presence. MCCONNELL remained in communication with Swanson during the burglary via a walkie-talkie. The pharmacy’s stock of oxycodone, morphine, hydrocodone, and amphetamines, were located and removed. Thousands of pills were taken, with a wholesale cost to the pharmacy of approximately $5,391.74, and an estimated street value of $15,000. The drugs were returned to the Washington area, where they were distributed to others. MCCONNELL and Swanson shared in the proceeds from the burglary.

As part of his plea agreement, MCCONNELL agreed to pay restitution to the pharmacy for the physical damage caused, and for the value of the drugs taken.

Selling the stolen drugs can net a profit in excess of $100,000 per burglary. High strength oxycodone can sell for as much at $80 per pill. These drugs are then consumed by addicts and others, without a valid prescription, posing harm to themselves and society in general. The non-prescribed use of such drugs has resulted in serious medical calamities to individuals in the State of Washington between 2004 and the present.

Thus far, 12 Snohomish County individuals have entered felony guilty pleas in United States District Court for offenses related to this drug distribution scheme. Those who have pleaded guilty to committing pharmacy burglaries, include Michael Hinkle, 39, Ivan Stoutenburg, 31, Jeremy Swanson, 30 , James Phillips, 24, Kenneth Graham, 29, David Palfrey, 30, Dale MacDonald, 24, Anthony Houser, 28, Ty Nelles, 30, Brent Murray, 30, and Sarah Murray, 31. Those who have pleaded guilty to distributing the drugs or committing related crimes include Lyle Woods, 32, Jennifer Hinkle, 34, Todd Downes, 27, Christopher Johnson, Sr., 55, Christopher Johnson, Jr., 32, and Alex Brand, 23.

Investigation is continuing and charges against additional participants in this criminal network are anticipated.

MCCONNELL is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik on October 12, 2007.

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 Lynnwood Washington Police Department, and the Red Bluff, California 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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