Augusta, ME – A pharmacist working in Brunswick has been convicted of two counts of Stealing Drugs in connection with the theft of the prescription opiate Oxycodone and the sleep aid Ambien.
Attorney General Janet T. Mills recently announced that former pharmacist John W. Underwood, a resident of Bath, pleaded guilty in Cumberland County Superior Court on October 17, 2013, to two counts of Stealing Drugs in connection with a series of thefts of Oxycodone and Ambien from Mid Coast Hospital in 2011 and 2012. Underwood, a longtime employee of Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, was the Pharmacy Manager when he diverted drugs from the hospital for his personal use.
Underwood was sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment, with all but 14 days suspended, and two years probation on the felony charge for stealing Oxycodone. He received a concurrent sentence of 14 days of imprisonment on the misdemeanor charge for stealing Ambien. Underwood was also ordered to pay $800.00 in fines. Among other conditions of probation, Underwood is prohibited from accepting any employment that would give him access to controlled substances. Underwood’s license to practice as a pharmacist was revoked by the Maine Board of Pharmacy in April 2012.
“Abuse of prescription narcotics is a major public health and public safety issue in Maine,” Attorney General Mills stated. “We place great trust in healthcare professionals to not only provide appropriate care, but to also assist in eliminating the diversion of these addictive drugs to non-medical uses. Mr. Underwood breached that trust and put the health and safety of countless patients at risk. I applaud the Healthcare Crimes Unit for their work in uncovering this deception.”
The case was investigated by Detective Robert Flis of the Maine Office of Attorney General’s Healthcare Crimes Unit, and Tom Avery, Investigator for the Board of Pharmacy. Mr. Underwood was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Valerie Wright of the Healthcare Crimes Unit within the Criminal Division.
The Maine Office of the Attorney General is responsible under law for the prosecution of all major drug offenses and all health care crimes. Attorney General Mills has made it a priority of her office to stem the tide of prescription drug diversion and abuse, which she has called an “epidemic” in our state. Prescription drug abuse is the cause of hundreds of drug-affected babies being born each year and drug-related deaths now exceed those caused by traffic accidents in Maine.
Source: ME AG’s Office