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AG: Pharmacy Tech Stole $500K in Drugs

Thefts from West Mifflin supplier alleged to have occured over three years

By Staff Reports
The Tube City Almanac
March 02, 2020
Posted in: Crime and Police News

A Duquesne woman was indicted by a state grand jury after investigators accused her of stealing more than $500,000 of a prescription drug — about 66,000 doses — from the pharmacy where she worked.

The drug, Suboxone, is commonly used to help wean addicts from narcotics, but according to public health experts, it has its own potential for abuse.

Rena L. Schleehauf, 33, was arrested Friday by the state Attorney General’s office and charged with acquisition of controlled substances by misrepresentation, possession of controlled substances, possession with intent to deliver, theft by unlawful taking and theft by deception.

She remains free on her own recognizance pending a preliminary hearing March 19 before Magisterial District Judge Richard Olasz Jr.

The thefts — from Johnson’s Pharmaceutical Services in West Mifflin, which supplies prescriptions to personal care homes and other large institutions — are alleged to have taken place over a three-year period, said a spokesman for state Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

“Time and again this defendant ordered drugs, paid for them with company funds, removed them from the company’s inventory once they arrived and then loaded them into her car when no one was watching,” Shapiro said in a prepared statement.

According to the grand jury presentment, in July 2019, Johnson’s called West Mifflin police to report missing drugs and irregularities in orders.

A audit by the company and an investigation by West Mifflin police Detective Christopher Mordaunt revealed that Johnson’s had ordered more than 2,200 boxes of Suboxone, a prescription drug generally used to treat people who are trying to stop using narcotics, the presentment said.

According to the manufacturer, Richmond, Va.-based Indivior, Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone.

Although not prescribed as a painkiller, buprenorphine is a opioid — a drug that simulates the effects of morphine and heroin — and has some of the same effects. It can become addictive and be abused, the manufacturer said.

Because Johnson’s deals mainly with facilities that serve elderly populations, the grand jury said, it was extremely unlikely to order that quantity of Suboxone.

According to the presentment, Schleehauf was hired as a pharmacy technician in 2015 and was promoted to lead pharmacy fill technician in 2018. As part of her duties, the presentment said, she was responsible for overseeing inventory, ordering new medication and checking inventory into the pharmacy.

Pharmacy technicians are not required to be licensed in the state of Pennsylvania.

Investigators claim that Schleehauf began purchasing Suboxone through Johnson’s ordering system in August 2016. When the orders would arrive, the grand jury alleged, Schleehauf would put the orders in her purse or car, and would hide or destroy the inventory stickers for the orders.

Because accounts payable were handled by a different department at Johnson’s than purchasing, the grand jury said, and because the Suboxone was being ordered from an existing vendor — Cardinal Health — that Johnson’s used for other products, no one at Johnson’s realized that the pharmacy was making regular purchases of a drug it didn’t stock in inventory.

When West Mifflin police and state investigators searched Schleehauf’s home and car, they said they found 187 sealed boxes of Suboxone — each containing 30 doses — along with 338 empty boxes and 32 invoices from Cardinal Health.

Police and the grand jury said some of the doses of Suboxone were given to a family member each month, but have not said where the other doses went.

Originally published March 02, 2020.

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