Former New Hampshire Pharmacist Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Drug-Related Offenses
CONCORD – Thomas Kellermann, 65, of Bedford, was sentenced to 24 months in prison for tampering with a consumer product and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, announced United States Attorney Scott W. Murray.
According to court documents and statements in court, Kellermann 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 relief drugs. In March of 2012, Kellermann took medical leave from his position. While on medical leave in March and April 2012, Kellermann 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 the pharmacy’s inventory of narcotic drugs, which had been purchased to fill prescriptions for hospice patients. His conduct made it appear that the vials were unused.
The tampering was discovered when an employee of the pharmacy detected irregularities in certain vials of drugs. After the tampering was discovered, vials of both hydromorphone and morphine were analyzed by an independent laboratory and found to be substantially below their labeled strength. At the time his tampering was uncovered, 62 percent of the hydromorphone and morphine in the pharmacy’s inventory showed signs of tampering.
Kellermann pleaded guilty on January 10, 2018, 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.
Kellermann was sentenced to 24 months in prison and fined $10,000. After serving his prison sentence, he will be on supervised release for two years.
“Tampering with controlled substances by health care workers is a very serious crime,” said U.S. Attorney Murray. “This type of activity is a betrayal of the trust that patients place in the health care system. Tampering and diversion deprive patients of needed medicine and can expose patients to other substantial health risks. This sentence should serve as a warning to health care workers that this type of dangerous conduct will not be tolerated.”
“Tampering with drugs not only denies patients the drugs they need, but it may also endanger their health by exposing them to contaminated products,” said Jeffrey J. Ebersole, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ New York Field Office. “The FDA will continue to hold medical personnel accountable when they violate the trust of the patients.”
“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 Acting Special Agent in Charge Albert Angelucci. “In response to the ongoing opioid epidemic DEA is 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.