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Brookfield pharmacist charged with 11 counts of felony prescription fraud

Pharmacy auditors, customers noticed drugs missing during a two-year period

Jan. 22, 2013

Thousands of dollars worth of controlled substances including amphetamine salts, oxycodone, morphine and dextroamphetamine are among the list of controlled substances a Brookfield pharmacist allegedly took from his job between 2009 and 2012.

James D. Kobs of Wauwatosa was charged in December with eleven counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and one count of felony theft. The case began in April, when he worked at a Brookfield pharmacy. Kobs was charged with felony bail jumping Friday after authorities learned he had been working at a Milwaukee pharmacy since October.

According to the criminal complaint:

Kobs worked as a pharmacy manager at a Brookfield Pick 'n Save pharmacy, 15170 West Greenfield Avenue.

Between Oct. 2009 and April 2012, police believe Kobs doctored inventory logs of prescription pills, recording more than the actual count.

The logs showed Kobs filled then voided prescriptions, leaving pills unaccounted for.

Pick 'n Save also received complaints from customers served by Kobs that their prescription had fewer pills in the bottle than the label indicated.

More than 845 amphetamine salt tablets, a brand known as Adderall used to treat ADHD, were found missing from 2009 to 2012.

During the same time period, more than 200 oxycodone pills of various strengths, 10 morphine pills, 20 methadone pills, and 34 dextroamphetamine pills were found missing.

Keeping other employees quiet

A manager at a West Allis Pick 'n Save who had worked with Kobs as a pharmacist told detectives that he noticed pills missing during monthly audits of Kobs' prescription logs. The manager told police that when Kobs found out he had reported the missing pills to Roundy's corporate, as policy states, Kobs got upset and questioned the pharmacist on why he told on him.

Kobs told the pharmacist that from then on, he "wished to be informed of any indiscrepancies" so he could "find reason for the errors."

The pharmacist complied with Kobs' request while continuing to document missing pills, ranging between 3 to 60 pills per audit, without alerting Roundy's corporate.

The pharmacist said that during bi-monthly audits, 75 percent of the time errors were found in Kobs' narcotics prescription logs, including incorrect math.

Mysterious prescriptions

A pharmacist at a Greenfield Pick 'n Save told police Kobs fraudulently filled prescriptions for her mother.

She worked opposite shifts with Kobs at the Greenfield store from Aug. 2011 until early 2012.

According to the criminal complaint, the pharmacist's mother used the store to fill her prescriptions. The pharmacist told police that in April 2012, her mother picked up a prescription for Valium. The next day, Kobs filled a second prescription for Valium for the woman without her knowledge and under a different prescription number.

The pharmacist told police the pills were gone from the pharmacy, an indication that her mother had picked them up, but that was not the case.

The prescription was not signed for and was never accounted for.

The pharmacist also said that she, too, noticed narcotic missing from the store's inventory on a regular basis.

Every couple of weeks during audits, between five and 30 pills were missing, she told police.

Irate behavior at another pharmacy

Kobs was charged in December, but worked as a pharmacist at Omni Pharmacy in Milwaukee from October to December, where he dispensed medication, including the same types of narcotics he had stolen from Pick 'n Save.

Working at a pharmacy, as well as dispensing Schedule II controlled substances, is a violation of the bail established when Kobs was charged in December. A signature bond was signed Dec. 10.

According to the criminal complaint, Kobs allegedly choked an employee at the Milwaukee pharmacy Dec. 26 after a discussion between Kobs and the employee about allowing customers who have health insurance to pay cash for their prescription.

At some point during the discussion, Kobs became verbally aggressive, threw a stapler and said, "My license is on the line."

Caught red handed

When Roundy's loss prevention and pharmacy personnel confronted Kobs about the missing pills in April, he ran out of the store and sped away.

Investigators found three original prescriptions for unknown drugs, four to five prescriptions for oxycodone, a label for a prescription for his sister, five Oxycontin pills, one oxycodone tablet, and one Vyvanese tablet in a container, a tube of lidocaine cream without a label, allergy medicine, an inhaler, and $80 in a red lunch bag belonging to Kobs.

Kobs told investigators the pills in the container were found on the floor and that he had planned to destroy them.

During the confrontation, Kobs admitted to stealing narcotics from patient prescriptions.

He told investigators he was "dealing with a possible oxycodone addiction," that he would take two to five pills from prescriptions labeled for 30 pills and had taken between 20 to 40 oxycodone pills over the course of one and a half years.

Roundy's told police the items in the lunch bag were worth $250 retail.

Based on inventory estimates between 2009 and 2012 and what was found in the lunch box, Roundy's suffered a $4,700 loss.

It's unknown if Kobs stole drugs from the Milwaukee pharmacy.

Roundy's was not available for comment at press deadline.

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