Judge orders jail in pill theft case

SANDPOINT — A pharmacist who succumbed to the occupational hazard of abusing the drugs he was dispensing was ordered Thursday to serve 30 days in jail.

First District Judge Barbara Buchanan also placed Bradley William Owens on three years of supervised probation and ordered him to pay nearly $15,000 in restitution, most of which accounts for the thousands of tablets of prescription medication he pilfered from Sandpoint Super Drug, his former employer.

Owens, 33, was charged last year with burglary, grand theft and felony possession of a controlled substance. The pill thefts occurred from 2010 to 2012, according to charging documents.

 Owens pleaded guilty to the possession charge. In exchange for the plea, the theft and burglary charges were dismissed.

Owens said he became reliant on prescription drugs after taking them to have more energy and to cope with the stress. Owens expressed shame for betraying his employer, disengaging from family and becoming selfish and arrogant as his addiction worsened.

“I’m here today because of the bad choices I made,” said Owens.

Owens’ family members testified that they regretted not connecting his erratic behavior and moods to his secret addiction to stimulants, high-potency painkillers and other prescription drugs.

Owens entered a 90-day inpatient rehabilitation program followed by stringent, five-year sobriety program through the Idaho Physician Recovery Network.

Sandpoint Super Drug estimated that Owens was responsible for taking more than 18,000 doses of prescription medication over the two-year period he was employed at the drugstore.

“Whether he took that many, I highly doubt it,” said Owens’ Sandpoint attorney, Bryce Powell.

Nevertheless, the defense did not contest the restitution amount.

Due to Owens’ lack of a previous criminal record, Bonner County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Shane Greenbank said he did not oppose a suspended prison term or a withheld judgment, which would clear the conviction from his record upon successful completion of probation.

However, Greenbank recommended 30 days in jail due to the scope of the thefts and the betrayal of his employer.

“This was a terrible violation of the trust his employers that spanned two years,” said Greenbank.

Powell argued simply for a withheld judgment, noting that addiction is not an unusual pitfall for a pharmacist, although his client’s situation was unique in that it unfolded as a matter of public record.

Buchanan said the overwhelming majority of felony cases are one way or another connected to addiction.

“I have a responsibility to treat you the same as everybody else,” said Buchanan.

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