Former Roanoke pharmacist sentenced for tampering

Bryan Wade Lewis, a former pharmacist at Home Choice Partners in Roanoke, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court, Roanoke, for tampering with a consumer product, hydromorphone, that affected interstate commerce, according to Acting United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar.

Lewis, 35, of Roanoke, Virginia, was sentenced to 12 months and 1 day in federal prison. He pleaded guilty in September 2020 to one count of tampering with a consumer product. The United States requested a sentence of 51 months.

“Tampering with powerful narcotics can harm patients and will not be tolerated,” said Bubar. “We appreciate the good work on this case by FDA, DEA, DHP, and VSP that brought Lewis to justice and demonstrates our commitment to ensure the public receives safe and unadulterated medication.”

“Those who knowingly tamper with and steal medicines risk harming patients by depriving them of their prescribed therapies,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark S. McCormack, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Metro Washington Field Office. “We will continue to protect the public health and bring to justice healthcare professionals and others who take advantage of their position and compromise patients’ health and comfort by tampering with needed drugs.”

According to court documents, in January 2018 an employee at Home Choice Partners in Roanoke discovered a needle, alcohol pad, and a bloody tissue in the toilet of an employee bathroom and reported it to another employee. When asked by that employee if he knew anything about the items, Lewis said the items may have fallen out of his pocket. The employee contacted human resources and a decision was made to drug test all employees.

Lewis, who was scheduled to be off work on the day of the drug test, was instructed to report to work to be administered a drug screening. However, Lewis contacted an employee and explained that he was the employee responsible for the items in the toilet. When asked, Lewis explained he had been engaging in such conduct for nine months. Lewis admitted there was a 50 ml vial of hydromorphone in the back of the narcotics cabinet that did not contain hydromorphone, but instead had been replaced, by him, with saline.

Investigation of the case was conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion Control Division, Virginia Department of Health Professions, and Virginia State Police. Assistant United States Attorney Randy Ramseyer prosecuted the case for the United States.

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