© Submitted photo
Queens District RCMP has issued this photo of prescription drugs seized in connection with a drug trafficking case against a pharmacy technician in Cornwall.
A pharmacy technician who stole hundreds of pills from her employer in Cornwall will be spending almost two years in jail after she was sentenced Wednesday in P.E.I. Supreme Court.
Phyllis Shirlene Curtis, 38, appeared before Justice Wayne Cheverie in Charlottetown for sentencing after pleading guilty to three charges related to the theft.
Cheverie sentenced her to two years less a day in jail for trafficking hydromorphone, possession of oxycodone for the purpose of trafficking and stealing prescription narcotics from her employer.
She was also ordered to pay $2,398 in restitution to the pharmacy in Cornwall.
The pharmacy initially called the RCMP in May to report possible hydromorphone and oxycodone thefts.
As part of the pharmacy's internal investigation, it started targeted auditing and video surveillance caught Curtis removing a bottle of 60 hydromorphone pills without putting it back.
The empty bottle was later found in a recycling bag.
On another day, Curtis arrived for work and adjusted the inventory in the computer system to remove a bottle of 500 oxycodone pills.
When the RCMP arrested her at the end of her shift she told them the pills were in her purse.
The pharmacy checked inventory adjustments back to October 2012 and found Curtis had changed 599 hydromorphone and 7,127 oxycodone pills in the system, although it was unclear how many were valid.
Federal Crown attorney Jonathan Coady told the court the street value of oxycodone pills ranged between $6-$10 while hydromorphone pills sell for $10-$100, depending on the size.
But because the pharmacy didn't know the exact number of pills Curtis stole, Coady said he couldn't give a total street value for all of them.
He also told the court Curtis was stealing the pills to give to a friend who was paying off a debt.
The Crown and defence gave a joint sentence recommendation of two years less a day for trafficking hydromorphone, two years less a day for possession of oxycodone for the purpose of trafficking and five months for stealing prescription narcotics with a value of less than $5,000.
All of those sentences are to be served concurrently.
Throughout the proceedings Curtis barely moved as she sat with her head down, wiping her nose and eyes while she looked down at the defence table.
In his submissions, defence lawyer Clifford McCabe gave the court an apology letter Curtis wrote, as well as letters of support from two of her friends.
McCabe said that although deterrence was an important part of sentencing, it was extremely unlikely Curtis would be before the court again on anything of the nature she faced with the drug charges.
He also said she was embarrassed and remorseful for what she had done and recognized she would never work as a pharmacy technician again.
The joint recommendation of two years less a day was the maximum that could be imposed before Curtis would have to serve her sentence in a federal penitentiary.
McCabe said Curtis wanted to serve her time in P.E.I. so she could have contact with her child.
Along with the jail time Cheverie also ordered 18 months of probation.