News and Press Releases

Conspirators Broke into Pharmacies In Northwest and West Coast

May 2, 2007

TY NELLES, 30, of Marysville, Washington, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle in connection with a scheme to burglarize pharmacies and sell prescription narcotics. NELLES pleaded guilty to the felony offense of pharmacy burglary, punishable by up to twenty years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

As part of his guilty plea, NELLES admitted joining other Snohomish County men in a scheme to burglarize pharmacies in the State of Washington and California. Specific burglaries in which NELLES participated included the November 20, 2004, burglary of Owens Pharmacy, in Red Bluff, California, and the October 21, 2004, burglary of Save Now Discount Pharmacy, in Lynnwood, Washington.

Court documents indicate that both burglaries were committed during hours when the pharmacies were closed for business. The telephone lines leading to the pharmacy were cut by the burglars prior to entry in order to disable the remote security alarm of the pharmacy. Once inside, the pharmacy’s inventories of Schedule II and III controlled substances were located and taken, including the pharmacy’s stock of oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine, among other powerful narcotics.

The drugs taken during the burglaries were sold to others for profit. NELLES received both drugs and cash as compensation for participating in the burglaries.

As part of his plea agreement, NELLES agreed to pay restitution to each of the pharmacies 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 as $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, 16 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, and Anthony Houser, 28. 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, and Christopher Johnson, Jr., 32.

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

NELLES is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik on July 27, 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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