Richland — The actions of a Kennewick pharmacist who stole pain medications intended for customers was morally reprehensible, a judge said in sentencing the man to four years in a federal prison.
Kenyon Neal Lyle Jr. was sentenced recently in U.S. District Court in Richland by Judge Ed Shea.
In addition to the prison term, Shea ordered Lyle not to use alcohol or illegal controlled substances and to stay away from any establishment such as a liquor store or bar where alcohol is the primary item of sale, according to court records.
Lyle was allowed to remain on release until the federal Bureau of Prisons designated an appropriate facility for him. Shea recommended he be placed in the Sheridan, Ore., prison to participate in a 500-hour substance abuse treatment program, records show.
Lyle pleaded guilty Aug. 10 to two counts of tampering with consumer products and seven counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.
He was arrested in December 2009 following a Kennewick Police Department investigation based on a complaint by a pharmacy customer.
His license was suspended three months later by the state Board of Pharmacy, which said Lyle would pose an immediate danger to the public health, safety or welfare if he were allowed to continue to practice as a pharmacist.
Lyle had been a pharmacist in Kennewicks Safeway store at the time. Court records show he also was working at a Richland pharmacy.
The U.S. Attorneys Office for the Eastern District of Washington released a statement saying that in the summer and fall of 2009, Lyle tampered with the narcotic drug Fentanyl by opening the manufacturers box, removing the transdermal patches and re-gluing the box.
He would return the then-empty boxes to a secured narcotics storage cabinet in the pharmacy.
A pharmacy customer reported the theft to Kennewick police after receiving two empty Fentanyl boxes.
Detective Bill Dramis, who led the investigation, discovered additional empty manufacturers boxes, along with the theft of other controlled substances, like Oxycontin.
The U.S. Attorneys Office statement says Lyle destroyed records to hide the theft of a shipment of Fentanyl, altered existing prescriptions to divert controlled substances and created fake prescriptions for a non-existent pharmacy customer to divert the drugs.
When medication is dispensed to the public, we place ourselves completely in the hands of our medical professionals, said U.S. Attorney Michael C. Ormsby, based in Spokane. The public has every right to expect that licensed Pharmacists will dispense medication in a safe, effective and proper manner. It is particularly egregious when medication is diverted by the very professionals in whom the public places its trust.
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