By David Hedges, Publisher

A Spencer pharmacist has been charged with stealing prescription drugs while he was working at the local Walmart pharmacy.

William Jennings "Jay" Starcher, 55, of Charleston Road, Spencer was arrested last week on two charges, petit larceny and embezzlement. Each of the misdemeanor charges carries a penalty of up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

In an unusually rapid pace for the local courts, the same day Starcher was arrested and placed on bond he was allowed to enter into a plea bargain approved by prosecutor Josh Downey and was fined $100. No jail sentence was imposed.

The charges filed by Cpl. F.L. Hammack of the State Police detachment in Spencer allege a security officer at the Spencer Walmart contacted police about a May 10 incident in the store pharmacy.

Starcher was the only pharmacist working in the store that day, according to the criminal complaint filed by Hammack. A pharmacy technician working with him told police she saw Starcher put something in his pocket. The store's security officer gave Hammack a copy of video surveillance of the incident.

The technician did a pill count the next day and found the pharmacy missing 103 hydrocodone tablets. The commonly abused pain reliever and narcotic is listed as a schedule III drug.

Hammack's complaint said in an interview May 29 Starcher admitted taking hydrocodones while working at the store.

Starcher appeared in magistrate court with his attorney, Mort Titus, and Downey last Wednesday.

Starcher was arraigned by Magistrate Jason Bennett, who set bond at $12,500, and then entered a plea.

Downey asked that the embezzlement charge be dismissed and Starcher pled guilty to petit larceny and was fined $100 plus court costs. Bennett also ordered him to make $100 restitution to Walmart.

Starcher worked at Walmart parttime. He had been the full-time pharmacist for several years at Roane General Hospital, but another pharmacist has been hired to take his place.

Starcher is currently listed as having an inactive license by the W.Va. Board of Pharmacy. The board's Web site said there is no disciplinary action.

A spokesman for the Board of Pharmacy said the inactive license status was requested by the W.Va. Pharmacist Recovery Network.

WVPRN is a non-profit, peer run organization dedicated to the identification, treatment, monitoring and support of pharmacy personnel impaired by medications, alcohol or psychiatric disorders.

WVPRN Executive Director Michael O'Neil said pharmacists who enter the program must surrender their license and submit to a strict treatment program with counseling and forensic evaluation.

O'Neil said those who successfully complete the program, on average, get their license back in six months to two years. He said they continue to be monitored for at least five years with restrictions that include random drug testing.


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