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Pharmacy employee accused of pill theft

Police say they found $13,000 cash, thousands of hydrocodone pills

A Spokane pharmacy technician who police say stole 100,000 pain pills faces criminal charges for drug dealing and the potential loss of his career.

Paul Martsin, 25, was arrested after he was caught on camera stuffing 1,000 hydrocodone pills and two bottles of codeine cough syrup into his backpack at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center’s outpatient pharmacy, according to Spokane police.

Martsin spent Wednesday night in Spokane County Jail before being released without bond. He faces charges of possession of hydrocodone with intent to deliver and possession of codeine with intent to deliver.

The Spokane resident has no prior criminal record, police said.

The Washington Department of Health opened its own investigation Thursday to determine whether Martsin should be stripped of his pharmacy tech credentials, said Dave Magby, director of the office of investigations and inspections. Martsin has been a pharmacy tech since 2008.

Magby could not recall any previous case involving the theft of such a large number of pills by a health care professional.

The monthslong investigation began when Sacred Heart officials realized the pharmacy was short several thousand pills and contacted police, said Teresa Fuller, a police spokeswoman.

A surveillance camera placed in the pharmacy recorded Martsin putting the pills and cough syrup in his backpack.

After Martsin’s arrest, detectives obtained search warrants for his backpack, a storage unit and his apartment and found about 7,000 more hydrocodone pills plus 190 empty, 500-count pill bottles allegedly linked to previous thefts, police said. Martsin also had about $13,000 in cash that police think was from drug sales.

Sacred Heart spokesman Joe Robb would not comment on the case other than to say, “We take these matters very seriously and are working closely with the Spokane Police Department.”

The Department of Health learned of Martsin’s arrest Wednesday, and the pharmacy commission – the group that oversees pharmacists’ credentialing – authorized an investigation.

“Our focus is on the credential, and law enforcement’s focus is on the criminal activity,” Magby said.

He would not comment on whether the hospital pharmacy would face any sanctions. “During the course of the investigation if we determine the pharmacy knew or should have known what was happening, a complaint could be filed with the pharmacy commission,” Magby said.

Fuller said it’s her understanding the hospital has added extra precautions to prevent similar thefts in the future.