Pittston pharmacy tech sentenced for skimming pills

Posted on: December 9th, 2014 by sobrietyresources

Jon Ross Twadelle, 29, pleaded guilty to stealing drugs and falsifying records at a Randolph pharmacy.
By Betty Adams Staff Writer
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AUGUSTA — A former pharmacy technician who skimmed hydrocodone tablets from a Randolph pharmacy’s stock for at least two years was sentenced Monday in Kennebec County Superior Court.

Jon Ross Twadelle, 29, of Pittston, pleaded guilty to stealing drugs and falsifying records in a scheme that the prosecutor says was discovered when an audit was done, which led to Twadelle being caught on camera pocketing handfuls of pills.

Twadelle was sentenced to two years in jail with all but 30 days suspended and two years’ probation. He was fined $400. He was ordered to pay $500 restitution for the missing medication, and conditions of probation ban him from being at any Community Pharmacy location.

In exchange for the pleas, a charge of aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs was dismissed. As part of a disciplinary action by the state Board of Pharmacy, Twadelle agreed to the permanent revocation of his pharmacy technician license and agreed to pay a civil penalty of $1,000 in a consent agreement he signed in October 2013.

Separately, the Board of Pharmacy reprimanded his father, John D. Twadelle, the pharmacist in charge at Randolph Community Pharmacies in Randolph when the drug diversion occurred, for violating a rule by “failing to establish and maintain effective controls against diversion of prescription drugs.”

That consent agreement, signed at the end of May 2014, included a civil penalty of $1,500 and a minimum one-year probationary period in which John Twadelle, also of Pittston, must provide quarterly reports of all purchases and dispensing of scheduled drugs for businesses where he is the pharmacist in charge. He now is the pharmacist in charge at Gardiner Apothecary.

The younger Twadelle is in treatment with a mental health counselor and taking medication for depression, anxiety and other problems, according to a sentencing memorandum filed with the court by his attorney, Ronald Schneider. Part of the problem, Schneider says in his memo, stems from a head injury suffered when Twadelle crashed while riding a mountain bike down a trail at Sunday River. Schneider quotes Jon Twadelle, who prefers to be known as Ross, as saying, “I am no longer trapped in a cycle of addiction” and that he plans to seek a career in the outdoors. “In short, Ross’s behavior has its origins in mental illness and physical and mental trauma. … Ross did not take drugs to profit from them or to simply get high. Rather he took the drugs to self-medicate himself with a desire to feel normal and confident and to avoid feeling bad,” Schneider writes.

More than 40,000 hydrocodone/acetominophen tablets, an opioid pain medication, were unaccounted for between 2010 and October 2013, when the scheme was discovered, according to a memo from the prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General William Savage.

Jon Ross Twadelle told an investigator that he took 8 to 15 pills a day over a period of up to two years while working as a pharmacy technician. Savage’s memo describes an instance caught on surveillance on Sept. 9, 2013: “Pharmacy Technician John Ross Twadelle removed a stock bottle of 1,000 10/235 hydrodocone pills, walked to a corner and poured 10 handfuls of pills out of the bottle and placed them in his pants pocket.” Later that day, he used his home computer to alter the pill count in the inventory system by 800 “in order to ensure that the inventory count would trigger replenishment of the pills to keep enough on hand,”

Savage continues. “Twadelle adamantly denied that he had stolen the whole 40,039 pills.” Jon Ross Twadelle is to report to jail in January to begin serving the 30-day unsuspended portion of the sentence.

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