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Pharmacist stole more than 7,000 prescription pills, police say

Hydrocodone pills are arranged at a pharmacy.

BETHESDA, Md. (WJLA) – A person hired to dispense prescription medication and ensure patient safety is accused of breaking the law and breaching the medical code of ethics.

Montgomery County Police have charged Parvin Ossareh, 51, with the disappearance of more than 7,300 tablets of Hydrocodone, a powerful and highly addictive painkiller used in drugs like Vicodin and Lortab. Every pill was taken from the Giant Food store where Ossareh worked as a staff pharmacist. The supermarket is located along the 10400 block of Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda, adjacent to Walter Johnson High School.

According to charging documents filed in Montgomery County District Court, Ossareh allegedly stole a single Hydrocodone tablet on July 1, 2013. Ten days later, Ossareh swiped 250 tablets. By September, the pharmacist had taken 2,200 tablets. The alleged pill pilfering continued until June 2014, when management noticed fraudulent transactions and questioned Ossareh about it. The following day, Ossareh called into work sick and never returned to the store.

"I think that's terrible," retired nurse and Giant customer Anne Pavlich remarked, noting that Ossareh "took"some kind of oath as a pharmacist, just like doctors and nurses do. We're supposed to help the patient, not destroy them."

Investigators say Ossareh evaded detection for months by entering fake codes into the pharmacy computer, in effect clearing the powerful painkillers from Giant's inventory of controlled substances. A Giant employee, who spoke to ABC7 News on a condition of anonymity, said the pharmacy has to improve its security mechanisms.

"I don't know what to say, that's crazy," Giant customer Jerome Zimmerman remarked. "I've never heard anything like that before in my life!"

Ossareh could not be reached for comment.

ABC7 News asked Giant why it took nearly a year before management detected thousands of missing prescription pills. A spokesman for the Prince George's County-based grocer refused to answer the direct question, saying instead: "As this matter involves an ongoing legal investigation, we must refer all questions to the local authorities."

Calls to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which has launched its own probe into the situation, went unreturned.

Ossareh is charged with Theft-Scheme $1,000 - $10,000 and is due in Montgomery County District Court on Dec. 4 at 8:30 a.m.

"There are always bad apples. No matter where you go, there are always going to be bad apples. That's just a constant in life, it really is," Pavlich concluded.

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