Former VA Pharmacist Found Guilty of Stealing Drugs from Veterans

Former VA Pharmacist Found Guilty of Stealing Drugs from Veterans

Published January 19, 2020

From the Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Louisiana – A licensed pharmacist, who was formerly employed with the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Shreveport, was found guilty today by a federal jury for stealing controlled substances from mail-out prescriptions, announced United States Attorney David C. Joseph.

Following a one-week trial and four hours of deliberations, Melissa W. Richardson, 44, of Shreveport, was found guilty of 15 counts of acquiring a controlled substance by fraud.

According to evidence presented at trial, on June 9, 2017, Richardson, a licensed pharmacist employed at the VAMC, stole various quantities of Hydrocodone out of individual prescription bottles as she verified mail-out prescriptions meant for veterans. The prescriptions at issue had been prepared by a pharmacy technician and were awaiting a second count and verification from Richardson. Video surveillance from inside the VAMC controlled substances vault showed Richardson slipping the pills into her pocket as she counted the prescriptions. In multiple instances, she slipped pills into her pocket before the pills were counted. Video footage showed her then verify that the prescription was correct in the VAMC’s computer system, seal the bottle, place it in a sealed envelope, and drop it in a bin for mail-out. When federal agents confronted Richardson, she had 236 loose pills in her pocket.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian C. Flanagan and Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Allison D. Bushnell are prosecuting the case.