Former evidence technician pleads guilty to drug theft - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Former evidence technician pleads guilty to drug theft

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BLUEFIELD, W.Va. – U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin announced today that a former Beckley Police Department evidence technician pleaded guilty in federal court to illegally obtaining oxycodone.  Gabriella Brown, 31, of Beckley, W.Va., committed a federal felony by obtaining controlled substances by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception and subterfuge.

The Beckley Police Department announced in August that prescription pain pills were missing from its evidence room. Brown was employed as the Department's evidence technician at the time the missing evidence was revealed.

On August 16, 2012, a Beckley Police Department officer placed a container with 59 15-milligram oxycodone and 16 30-milligram morphine pills into an evidence locker to be entered and logged into the evidence room database.  The officer had obtained the pills from a local pain clinic.  An employee of the pain clinic had filled out a report prior to giving the pills to the officer.  The employee had counted the pills and noted there were 59 15-milligram oxycodone and 16 30-milligram morphine pills in the container.  The officer noted that there were 59 15-milligram oxycodone and 16 30-milligram morphine pills on a property control form that was filled out at the time he placed the pills into the evidence locker.  Brown admitted that the following day, she removed the pills from the evidence locker to log the quantity of pills into the evidence room records and stole 22 of the 15-milligram oxycodone pills from that container. 

On August 17, 2012, a detective from the Beckley Police Department went to Ms. Brown to obtain the pills from the evidence room.  The detective retrieved the pills from Ms. Brown and counted the pills in front of the defendant on two occasions.  Brown admitted that there were only 37 15-milligram oxycodone pills in the container.  The detective asked Ms. Brown, "Is this it?"  Brown admitted that she responded, "This is it." in reference to the pill count. 

Brown further admitted that she was addicted to opiates and had stolen oxycodone and other prescription pain medicine containing opiates from the Beckley Police Department's evidence room on several other occasions. 

Brown faces up to four years in prison and a $250,000 fine when she is sentenced on April 22, 2013. 

The Drug Enforcement Agency Tactical Diversion Squad is in charge of the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Steven I. Loew is handling the prosecution. 

This case is being prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of prescription drugs.  The U.S. Attorney's Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down illegal pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of opiate painkillers in communities across the Southern District. 

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