Former New Hampshire Pharmacist Pleads Guilty for Tampering with Narcotics at Bedford Pharmacy
CONCORD, N.H. – Thomas Kellermann, 65, of Bedford, pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday to tampering with a consumer product and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, announced Acting United States Attorney John J. Farley.
According to court documents and statements in court, Kellerman was employed as a pharmacist at a pharmacy in Bedford that dispensed prescription drugs to patients, including patients at hospice facilities. In 2011, Kellermann began abusing narcotic pain relievers. In March of 2012, Kellermann took medical leave from his position. While on medical leave in March and April 2012, Kellerman repeatedly returned to the pharmacy after business hours and on weekends and stole narcotic pain medication for his personal use. Kellermann removed the plastic top of vials containing hydromorphone and morphine, inserted syringes into the vials, and withdrew drugs from the vials. He then injected saline into the vials, placed a small amount of glue on top of the vials to reattach the plastic caps, and placed the vials back into pharmacy stock. This made it appear that the vials were unused. Kellermann also accessed hydromorphone that had been prepared for delivery to a patient, but which had been returned to the pharmacy and wasted.
The tampering was discovered when an employee of the pharmacy detected irregularities in certain vials of drugs. After the tampering was discovered, some of the vials were analyzed by an independent laboratory and found to be substantially below their labeled strength.
Kellermann pleaded guilty to a two-count Information charging him with one count of tampering with a consumer product and one count of obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception, or subterfuge. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 9, 2018.
“Tampering with controlled substances by health care workers is a very serious crime,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Farley. “This type of activity is a betrayal of the trust that patients place in the health care system. Tampering and diversion not only can deprive patients of needed medicine but also can expose patients to other substantial health risks. We will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute health care workers who engage in this very dangerous conduct.”
“Patients deserve to have confidence that they are receiving the proper treatment from those entrusted with providing their medical care,” said Jeffrey J. Ebersole, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ New York Field Office. “We must hold medical personnel accountable when they take advantage of their unique position and tamper with drugs needed by their patients. Tampering can not only endanger the health of patients by exposing them to contaminated products but also may deny them access to the treatments they need.”
“The reckless action by this health care worker is not only a violation of the Controlled Substance Act but a betrayal of the public trust,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Ferguson. “In response to the ongoing opioid epidemic DEA’s obligation is to improve public safety and public health, and we are committed to working with our law enforcement and regulatory partners to ensure that these rules and regulations are followed.”
The investigation was conducted by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Criminal Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Arnold H. Huftalen and Special Assistant United States Attorney Sarah Hawkins of the FDA’s Office of Chief Counsel.