Ex-Chickasw Nation Pharmacist Facing Trial

Wednesday, February 11th 2009, 7:47 am
By: News On 6

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) -- A former pharmacist for the Chickasaw Nation Health System faces a March 2 trial on federal embezzlement charges alleging he stole thousands of dollars in medication from the tribe's pharmacy.

The charges against Hugh Edward Work, 34, stem from an inquiry by the state Pharmacy Board, Chickasaw Lighthorse Police and the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous drugs.

Work and his attorney couldn't be reached for comment.

The Lindsay resident was arrested January 10, 2008, while leaving a tribe-owned pharmacy in Ada. He was carrying a sack of narcotics that belonged to the pharmacy, and investigators found narcotics scattered throughout his car, according to court records.

At his home, various medications, narcotics and other inventory that belonged to the pharmacy, along with marijuana, were discovered, court records state.

Authorities allege Work also is linked to the 2004 sale of $100,000 worth of drugs stolen from the Chickasaw Nation Health System and sold for $25,000 to a former Oklahoma pharmacist.

That pharmacist, Arkansas resident Gary Wayne Nichols, 33, pleaded guilty in November to Medicaid fraud and is awaiting sentencing in federal court in Oklahoma City. His pharmacy license was revoked in 2006.

Bill Lance, administrator for the tribe's health system, said new inventory controls are in place. All stock has been centralized, cameras have been installed and more stringent record keeping and inventories are required, Lance said.

Work's license is in good standing with the state Pharmacy Board and he was last employed at a specialty hospital in Oklahoma City. An administrator there said he left in January.

John Foust, director of the state Pharmacy Board, said the board is waiting until the federal case concludes before determining whether to take action against Work.