BECKLEY -- A former evidence technician whom authorities said stole powerful prescription painkillers from the Beckley Police Department pleaded guilty to federal drug and fraud charges Tuesday.
Gabriella Brown, 31, of Beckley, pleaded guilty to charges of obtaining controlled substances by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception and subterfuge, according to a news release issued by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.
Brown was the technician responsible for the Beckley Police Department's evidence room.
Authorities said on Aug. 16, a Beckley police officer stored a container with 59 oxycodone pills and 16 morphine pills into the evidence room and logged it into a database. The officer had received the pills from a local pain clinic and the pills were counted and noted by a pain clinic employee.
Brown told authorities that on the following day she removed the pills from the evidence locked to log the quantity and stole 22 of the oxycodone pills from the container, according to the release.
On Aug. 17, a detective went to Brown to retrieve the oxycodone pills and counted the contents of the container in front of her. She allegedly told the detective that there were only 37 pills in the container, according to the release.
Brown went on medical leave shortly after detectives began investigating the missing pills.
After Beckley Police Chief Tim Deems announced that the drugs were stolen from the evidence room, Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller said she was forced to dismiss drug cases going back 15 months.
The federal Drug Enforcement Agency's tactical diversion squad eventually took over the investigation and Brown resigned after being arrested in connection to theft.
When she is sentenced on April 22, Brown faces up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Brown said in court that she is addicted to opiates and had stolen oxycodone and other prescription pain pills from the Beckley Police Department's evidence room on several other occasions, according to the release.