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Former pharmacist jailed for theft of prescription meds

RIDGEWAY Hubert2

A former West Liberty pharmacist convicted of stealing thousands of prescription medications over four decades was sentenced Monday to local jail time, despite serious physical limitations, which the defendant claims led to his pill addiction in the first place.

Hubert Ridgeway, 63, of West Liberty, was sentenced by Logan County Common Pleas Court Judge Mark S. O’Connor to 30 days in Logan County Jail, a $500 fine and court costs for one count each of theft of drugs and possession of drugs.

Another court-ordered provision requires the defendant only use one pharmacy when legally obtaining necessary medication.

A search warrant executed on the defendant’s residence by West Liberty police in March 2012 turned up more than 50 pounds of prescription medication the defendant had stolen from previous employers over a number of years, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Eric Stewart said.

“We’re talking thousands and thousands of pills here,” he said.

Mr. Ridgeway has since admitted to stealing prescription pills from pharmacies where he worked in Logan, Champaign and Montgomery counties for 40 years.

A September indictment charged him with a total of six counts of theft and possession of drugs. The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy also has since revoked the defendant’s pharmacy license.

The defendant was permitted to keep his pharmacy license following a similar case in 1989 involving the defendant’s theft of prescription medication, Mr. Stewart said.  

Defense attorney Steve Fansler said his client is limited physically and has had numerous health concerns and surgeries over the years, which led to his addiction to painkillers. Mr. Fansler said the defendant’s family has made accommodations in their home to deal with his physical issues, but those accommodations would be difficult to replicate in the jail.

Josh Gelatt, senior pastor at Grace Chapel Church in West Liberty, addressed the court on Mr. Ridgeway’s behalf. The pastor said he’s been counseling the defendant since the case surfaced, and said Mr. Ridgeway has accepted responsibility for his actions since the beginning.

Mr. Ridgeway told the court he kicked his pill habit with no symptoms of withdrawal because of a strong will.

“I knew if I didn’t do something, I would die,” Mr. Ridgeway said.

The court noted the defendant was not selling the prescription medication, and the large cache of pills was intended for personal use.

Mr. Ridgeway was granted a furlough until 8 a.m. Thursday when he is to report to jail.

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