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Ennis pharmacist pleads guilty to diverting opioids

Ennis pharmacist pleads guilty to diverting opioids

Opioids, stock

Hydrocodone is a popular prescription semi-synthetic opioid that is used to treat moderate to severe pain. Hydrocodone is said to be one of the most common recreational prescription drugs in America.

A 70-year-old pharmacist once working in Ennis pleaded guilty Thursday to diverting opioids for himself and his friend, in part with the forged use of another doctor's signature.

Bradley John Stoick pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Missoula on Thursday to dispensing a controlled substance by a practitioner and to acquiring or obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge. Altogether the charges could land him in federal prison for a maximum 20 years, followed by three years of supervised release, and result in a $1 million penalty.

Prosecutors wrote in court filings on July 21 that a routine inspection by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in 2019 turned up some irregularities in the Ennis pharmacy of which Stoick was in charge. Inspectors found he had filled six prescriptions for himself for Norco 10-325mg, a drug which contains a combination of Acetaminophen and Hydrocodone, according to court filings.

The DEA also found another two prescriptions for the same drug ostensibly prescribed by a different doctor, who later told the DEA Stoick was never his patient. Computer records at the pharmacy, which tracks who is logged into the system at the time prescriptions are issued, showed Stoick had filled the prescriptions himself.

Along with his own dealings, Stoick had also altered a prescription for another individual by doubling the dosage amount, increasing the amount of pills from 45 to 120 and then mailing the prescription to a friend in Utah, according to federal court filings.

Stoick signed a plea agreement before his initial appearance, which was held Thursday preluding his guilty plea.

The U.S. District Attorney's Office of Montana said in a press release Thursday the Ennis Pharmacy agreed to pay a $125,000 fine and make several changes to its operation procedures as part of a settlement made earlier this month in a separate civil case.

"It is critical that pharmacists and other licensed providers comply with the law when dispensing all drugs, especially opioids," U.S. District Attorney Kurt Alme said in the press release. "When a healthcare professional, like Mr. Stoick, abuses his position to divert and steal opioids, he will be prosecuted."

Assistant U.S. District Attorney Michael Kakuk is prosecuting the case. Stoick's sentencing hearing was set for Nov. 19.

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