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Guilty plea from Spokane man accused of stealing painkillers

A plea deal has been entered in the case of 25-year-old former pharmacy tech accused of money laundering, dealing controlled substances and stealing from his employer, Sacred Heart Medical Center, over a period of several years. The man entered his guilty plea in Spokane County Court on Jan. 8, according to sources, and the man's next appearance, where a judge will decide whether or not to accept the deal, is reportedly in February.

Footage captured by surveillance cameras between May and July 2013 apparently showed the man removing bottles of codeine and hydrocodone from the hospital. The painkillers are often sold on the black market. A subsequent investigation found that more than 250,000 prescription painkillers had been removed from the hospital by the man over the last few years. Investigators believe that the man used the money gained from the sale of the narcotics to pay off gambling debts.

The man pled guilty to theft, three counts of money laundering and possession with intent to deliver. He agreed to an offer by the prosecution that will require him to pay more than $11,000 to Sacred Heart and serve a five-year prison sentence. No additional charges will be filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office since he accepted the plea deal, according to prosecutors.

The man has no prior convictions, sources say, and his attorney may have argued that point when working to arrange the plea deal. Individuals who are facing drug charges, including possession and intent to distribute, may also be eligible to enter a guilty plea for a reduced sentence. An attorney may be able to discuss options with those accused of drug crimes in Washington.

Source: The Spokesman Review , "Sacred Heart pharmacy tech pleads guilty in pill theft", Kip Hill, January 08, 2014

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