The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 3, 2014

Pharmacist accused of stealing painkiller

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — A pharmacist was arraigned Thursday on a felony count of theft of a controlled dangerous substance after authorities said he had been taking painkillers and a herpes treatment drug from an Enid store.

Eric Sean Chandler, 39, of El Reno, was arraigned on a single count of larceny of a controlled dangerous substance, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.

He is accused of taking the painkiller hydrocodone from Walgreens, 615 S. Van Buren, while employed there as a pharmacist.

According to an affidavit filed in the case, Enid Police Department officers were sent to the pharmacy at 7:23 a.m. Tuesday in reference to a theft.

An officer spoke with the manager who said the store’s loss prevention officer saw the night shift pharmacist, Chandler, concealing pills in his lab coat pocket, according to the affidavit.

The manager said Chandler had been part of an internal investigation for several weeks. During an audit of controlled medications a discrepancy was found, according to the affidavit.

The pharmacy manager was told of the situation and began counting the store’s hydrocodone at the end of her shift and when she came in the following morning, according to the affidavit. It was found pills were missing despite no prescriptions or refills for the drug being made.

The only other drug that fit the same pattern was a generic of Valtrex, a drug used to treat herpes and is not considered a controlled drug.

Loss prevention said there was video surveillance that showed Chandler placing pills into the pocket of his coat, according to the affidavit.

When Chandler was confronted by management he admitted to taking the pills, according to the affidavit. Chandler had five valacyclovir and 19 hydrocodone tablets in his possession the morning he was confronted, according to the affidavit. Chandler also admitted to taking up to three hydrocodone tablets during his shift the previous night.

Chandler provided a written statement for Walgreens admitting to the theft and said the theft had been ongoing for about a year, according to the affidavit.

A further audit showed there were 528 hydrocodone and 168 valacyclovir missing from the pharmacy.

Police were provided with a copy of Chandler’s statement and totals of the missing medications.

Chandler said there was nothing in the information given to police that he wanted to contest, according to the affidavit. He was then placed under arrest.

During an interview, Chandler said he was depressed because his girlfriend had committed suicide, according to the affidavit. He said he distraught over the incident and never really completed the grieving process.

He said he began taking the hydrocodone to deal with depression, and initially began taking one or two a week when not working, according to the affidavit. He said he now takes two to three a day.

Chandler denied ever selling any of the medications he took from the pharmacy.