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Ex-postmaster gets prison for tampering

Sat., Sept. 23, 2006, midnight

The former acting-postmaster in Malden, Wash., was sentenced to three years in prison Friday for tampering with a mail package containing prescription drugs.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Whaley sentenced Carolyn Sturgeon, 60, for drug-tampering under a plea agreement, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Harrington.

Whaley ordered her to complete three years of court supervision after she gets out of prison. According to a probation report, Sturgeon had a drug addiction that motivated her to commit the crime.

In July 2005, while working as a fill-in postmaster in Malden, Sturgeon opened a package from a pharmacy in St. John, Wash., and found a prescription bottle containing 84 tablets of Oxycodone.

She replaced the Oxycodone tablets with the exact number of synthetic thyroid pills previously prescribed to her. Sturgeon resealed the mail package and delivered the packet to its intended Postal Service customer.

If the recipient had unwittingly taken the Synthroid according to the directions on the label, it could have killed her, said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Rice.

The customer, wondering why the pills were a different size and color from her normal prescription, called the St. John pharmacy and was told not to take any of the medication.

U.S. Attorney James McDevitt said the case was “particularly egregious because not only did Carolyn Sturgeon violate the public trust placed in her as postmaster, but her criminal conduct could have resulted in life-threatening consequences.”

Bill Morlin

Deputies appeal firings to civil service board

Two sheriff’s employees fired by Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich are appealing their dismissals.

Joseph W. Mastel, a 12-year member of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, has asked the Civil Service Commission to hear his case. Meanwhile, the union that represents jail sergeants has taken up the case of Gary Delzer, who was on the force for 26 years.

The county Civil Service Commission is expected to hear Mastel’s appeal next month. He was fired June 22 after he was accused of exposing himself June 16 to an employee at On Alert Caffeine Station in Airway Heights.

Delzer was fired July 26 and accused of lying about two separate affairs with female subordinates and issuing a false document to get one of his lovers a new job.

Knezovich said it likely will take several months to arbitrate the Delzer case.

Jonathan Brunt

Search called off for missing hiker

The search has been called off and a memorial service is now being planned for a Post Falls hiker who went missing in a Montana wilderness this summer.

Bob Noble, a 41-year-old carpenter, was last seen July 19 in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness near Hamilton, Mont. Searchers had planned to make a final attempt to find his remains this weekend, but the effort was called off because of snow, said Noble’s mother, Beverly Noble, of Dalton Gardens.

“He’s up there some place,” she said. “We don’t know what happened. We might never know.”

Details of the memorial service will be provided when an obituary is published, Beverly Noble said.

James Hagengruber


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