Pharmacist gets prison time for morphine theft

Posted Jan. 14, 2009, at 11:40 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — A former pharmacist at Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast has been sentenced in U.S. District Court to a month in prison and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine for taking morphine and replacing it with a saline solution while working in the hospital pharmacy.

Granville L. Wilkins, 52, of Rockland also was sentenced on Jan. 8 by U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby to a year of supervised release after he completes his prison term.

He was expected this week to surrender his pharmacy license, which has been suspended since April 2007 when a theft was observed on a security tape.

Wilkins waived indictment and pleaded guilty in September to three counts of obtaining drugs by deception. The pharmacist removed pre-filled syringes of a liquid morphine once in late December 2006 and twice in March 2007, according to court documents.

He admitted that he used the drug himself due to personal problems and knee pain, according to court documents, after he had remained “sober” for 16 years. He was treated in 1990 for drug abuse and self-reported his drug use to the Maine Board of Pharmacy. Wilkins’ license was suspended that year for three months and he was reinstated.

Wilkins earned his pharmacy degree in 1979 from the University of Rhode Island, according to court documents. After working in New Mexico from 1995 to 2000, he returned to Maine and settled in the midcoast area.

Before taking the job at Waldo County General Hospital in August 2006, Wilkins worked at Waitz Pharmacy in Camden and the Hannaford Bros. pharmacy in Rockland, according to court documents.

Under federal law, Wilkins faced a maximum of four years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Under the prevailing federal sentencing guidelines, he faced between zero and six months in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Moore urged the judge to sentence Wilkins to six months in prison, according to the sentencing memorandum Moore filed last month.

In his sentencing memorandum, defense attorney George “Toby” Dilworth urged Hornby to sentence the former pharmacist to probation with a period of home confinement.

jharrison@bangordailynews.net

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