A onetime Twin Cities pharmacist has been sentenced for stealing thousands of doses of sedatives and opioids from his workplace.
Jeffrey F. Grothaus, 49, was ordered to serve four months in the Hennepin County workhouse and then three years’ probation after pleading guilty to four felony counts of theft by swindle between May 1, 2015 and Aug. 2, 2016.
That time frame covers roughly 2,000 doses of pills stolen. When he was initially charged, prosecutors alleged he had stolen 20,000 doses dating back to mid-2012.
District Judge Tanya Bransford rejected the defense’s request to have Grothaus sentenced to a gross misdemeanor and 20 days of light labor duties. She also denied the prosecution’s argument for five months in the workhouse.
The terms of his probation require Grothaus to continue with weekly support groups, not use any controlled substances, submit to random drug testing and undergo another chemical dependency evaluation if he has any issues with his drug tests.
The charges said Grothaus, of Maple Grove, stole the pills from two Park Nicollet stores: Carlson Pharmacy on Twelve Oaks Center Drive in Minnetonka and Wayzata Pharmacy on Central Avenue N. in Wayzata.
A Minnesota Board of Pharmacy investigation, which led to Grothaus having his license suspended indefinitely, found that he “admitted consuming the drugs while on duty.”
Grothaus was accused of stealing five types of drugs, mostly the sedative zolpidem (sold under the brand name Ambien) and the opioid painkiller tramadol (brand name Ultram).
According to the criminal complaint:
An internal investigation by HealthPartners at the two Park Nicollet pharmacies in July 2016 found unusually large adjustments to the stores’ inventories.
For example, an adjustment for 500 tablets of zolpidem was entered into the computer at the Wayzata pharmacy. However, a search of all HealthPartners/Park Nicollet pharmacies failed to show those 500 pills turning up somewhere else.
The adjustment was made at a pharmacy technician’s computer station. Store video showed Grothaus at that station. Video also showed Grothaus taking an item, slipping it into his pocket, then removing it from his pocket and putting it in his work locker.
Five months later, Grothaus admitted that he began stealing drugs in June or July of 2012.