World news wrapup: 14 November 2019


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Pharmacy worker snapped pics of colleagues, wrote violent fantasies about them; prolific pharmacy burglars charged; homeless former pharmacist helped by another pharmacist

Manchester, England: A pharmacy worker who admitted to taking indecent pictures of children has been given a suspended sentence, after he said he was traumatised by being kidnapped in 1994.

The Manchester Evening News reports that Richard Brierley, who worked in a pharmacy, had been taking “covert images” of his colleagues there, the court heard, and writing about them.

Prosecutor Lisa Boocock told the court that ”Accompanying those was detailed description of exactly of what sex acts the defendant desired of those colleagues, comments about Rohypnol – he worked at a pharmacy—comments about abduction and rape of colleagues and fantasy about torture as well.

“There was a video of him carrying out a sex act whilst looking at a picture of a work colleague plus covert images of children in a school and a list of children who attended at a local school in year eight. 

“The defendant was interviewed, and he accepted during that interview that he had a sexual interest in children and needed help.”

Mr Brierley’s defence barrister, Benjamin Knight, told the court that Mr Brierley had been kidnapped and held hostage in his home at knifepoint in 1994 by a criminal identified as “the Snapper” and that as a result Mr Brierley had become reclusive, spending his time at home, university or at work.

Mr Brierley received a two-year suspended jail sentence and was ordered to seek treatment in a Sex Offender program. He will also be on a Sex Offender Register for 10 years.

 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Four men have been charged after they allegedly had roles in burgling nearly 50 local pharmacies over the last five years, including 10 in Delaware County, reports the Delco Times.

The four men have been charged with 36 counts of pharmacy burglary; 13 counts of attempted pharmacy burglary; one count each of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and related conspiracy, drug and gun offenses.

Prosecutors allege that they conspired to burgle the pharmacies between November 2014 and April 2019, mostly in a bid to steal controlled drugs such as oxycodone and Percocet and to sell them on the black market.

They allegedly used crowbars and Halligan bars – which the Times describes as “specialized entry tools used by law enforcement and firefighters” to get into the pharmacies at night and steal drugs. All burglaries bar two were successful.

“These charges are a huge blow to this sophisticated burglary and drug-distribution organization,” said U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain in a release.

“As alleged, these defendants were able to carry out their conspiracy for years – terrorizing communities and small businesses all across the region, and adding to the scourge of the opioid epidemic for their own benefit.”

 

King of Prussia, Pennsylvania: A pharmacist who became homeless after losing her husband and becoming seriously unwell has been helped into a new home – by another pharmacist

Lynn Schutzman had been married to fellow pharmacist Norman, who died of a heart condition at the age of only 47. The couple had hoped to have children, but were unsuccessful, reports WBUR.

Soon after Norman’s death, Ms Schutzman suffered a series of strokes and was unable to return to work for two years.

In 2011, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, thyroid issues and kidney failure, and was forced to quit working as a pharmacist. Eventually she became unable to retain secure housing due to medical bills, and ended up living in her car with her two dogs.

Another pharmacist, Melissa Akacha, noticed Ms Schutzman living in the car and with a neighbour, Jennifer Husband-Elsier, who was a former social worker, approached her and offered to help.

Jennifer Husband-Elsier posted about Ms Schutzman’s plight on social media, and locals began bringing her food and water. Shortly after, Ms Husband-Elsier and Ms Akacha were able to secure housing for Ms Schutzman, raising money from the local community and helping furnish it with donated items.

Ms Schutzman told WBUR that she hoped Americans could help each other out by asking neighbours if they are okay.

 

Colorado: America’s Drug Enforcement Administration is suing the Colorado Pharmacy Board, reports the Colorado Sun.

The DEA is reportedly requiring that the Board share information from a database tracking opioid scripts, as part of an investigation into two pharmacies which the DEA says may have broken the law regarding the supply of opioids and other drugs.

“Such violations of law could potentially contribute to significant public harm in Colorado, including the overdose or death of patients,” diversion program manager Kerry Hamilton wrote.

The DEA had already subpoenaed the Board to provide the information, but it refused on privacy grounds.

The lawsuit is aimed at acquiring an enforcement of the subpoenas and to force the Board to provide the information.

The DEA says patient privacy will not be undermined.

“We recognise that this information is sensitive, but, just as the state does, we respect that sensitivity and will protect the confidentiality of that information from public disclosure,” Colorado US Attorney Jason Dunn said.

“We are disappointed with the refusal to comply with these lawful subpoenas, a refusal that has forced us to seek aid from the court in getting the information we need to carry out important law enforcement investigations aimed at combating the prescription drug abuse epidemic.”

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