Two Salmon Arm pharmacists charged with fraud in drugs theft | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Two Salmon Arm pharmacists charged with fraud in drugs theft

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Two Salmon Arm pharmacists have been charged with defrauding the Shuswap Lake General Hospital.

Pharmacists Ian Douglas Petterson and Laurent Pierre Roy have both been charged with stealing more than $5,000 of prescription and over-the-counter drugs from the Shuswap Lake General Hospital.

They've also been charged with defrauding the hospital of more than $5,000.

Court documents don't give details about the circumstances of the alleged theft and fraud, but say it went on between 2011 and 2018.

Petterson, 62, and Roy, 58, had their first court appearance at the Salmon Arm courthouse yesterday, Mar. 14.

The charges appear to be related to a 2020 civil lawsuit launched by Interior Health against the pharmacists.

In the civil suit, Roy, who Interior Health says was the owner of Salmon Arm Remedy’s RX at the time, and Petterson who had worked as a staff pharmacist at Shuswap Lake General Hospital were accused of colluding in a scam by pocketing cash by doctoring invoices.

Several months after Interior Health took legal action, Roy signed a consent agreement with the College of Pharmacists of B.C. and agreed to a $25,000 fine and received a one-year suspension.

In the consent agreement, Roy admitted that between at least 2011 and 2018, he had purchased pharmacy supplies, including prescription medications, from a hospital employee for cash. The hospital alleged the hospital employee diverted the supplies from the hospital.

The College doesn't name the employee, however a year later, Petterson signed a consent agreement admitting he "diverted" prescription medications from the hospital to a "community pharmacist" in exchange for cash.

"Evidence in the form of emails and text messages appeared to indicate (Petterson) circumvented hospital processes to divert the supplies from the hospital pharmacy," a 2021 College of Pharmacists decision reads. "The evidence appeared to indicate (Petterson) took steps to conceal his actions... (and) is likely to have benefited financially and professionally from the diversion and sale of the hospital supplies."

He was fined $35,000 and suspended for one year, although he'd already let his license expire.

Neither the criminal charges nor the civil suit gives a total amount the pharmacists are alleged to have pilfered.

Interior Health told that the civil claim has been resolved but wouldn't go into detail.

Court documents say that the allegations over the theft came to light after a hospital staff member found a bag of cash labelled "SLGH $500."

Interior Health commenced an internal investigation and fired Petterson. He earned $133,000 in 2017.

The court documents say Petterson had worked at the Shuswap Lake General Hospital since 1994 and began "manipulating pharmacy transactions" for sales to Remedy in 2004.

The statement of claim says Petterson removed medication without invoicing for it and sold it to Remedy’s pharmacy for cash. Petterson then disguised the records and had staff give invoices for Remedy’s to him so he could destroy them.

Petterson is no longer a registered pharmacist in B.C. although Roy still has his full licence with no conditions attached. A staff member at Salmon Arm Remedy’s RX said he'd last worked there in December 2022.

It's unclear why it took Salmon Arm RCMP almost three years to charge the pharmacists after Interior Health launched its legal suit and the pharmacy regulator had issued each man with fines and they'd admitted to their misconduct.

None of the criminal allegations have been proven in court.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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