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Lakeland Woman Charged With Grand Theft & Fraud After Allegedly Stealing Over $65,000 In Medication

Patricia Johnson Lakeland Pediatric Dentistry

Lakeland, Florida – The Lakeland Police Department arrested a Lakeland woman for grand theft, fraud and other charges stemming from the alleged theft of more than $65,000 in medication from her employer.

On May 12, 2021 Lakeland Police Arrested Patricia Johnson, DOB: 9/8/1965, of Lakeland. Her employer Lakeland Pediatric Dentistry found medication missing and allege Johnson is responsible. The following is a long exerpt from the Lakeland Police affidavit and specifically Detective Heather Benthal (It should be noted that this is an unedited report of facts by the Lakeland Police Department. These facts are up for question and everyone is entitled to question the validity of facts by law enforcement in a court of law. The Daily Ridge does not rewrite these facts as some meanings or interpretations could be in error and change context. We hope readers appreciate being able to read the information and come to their own understanding and conclusions) :

On 1/29/21 at 1446 pm I was advised to respond to Lakeland Pediatric Dentistry located at 1111 North Parkway Frontage Rd, Lakeland, Polk County, FL in reference to an employee stealing medications from the business. I was further advised the employee had stolen more medication that day and had been caught via hidden camera. The employee, later identified as Patricia “Tricia” Johnson, was still on property and was unaware of the discovery by her employers.

Upon my arrival, I made contact with Dr. Aaron Scheps, one of the partners in the dental office. I conducted a sworn/recorded interview with Dr. Scheps.

Dr. Scheps advised me he had noticed medication missing from their crash cart in late December while conducting inventory. The crash cart is only used in emergencies and is usually inventoried when medications are set to expire. While inventory was being conducted, he noticed the Clonidine/Diazepam 10mg, which is used for high blood pressure/hypertension, was nearly gone. The bottle contained 100 pills originally, but currently only had 3 in it. Dr. Scheps advised they had not had any dental emergencies that required use of any of these medications, so the bottle should have been full. Out of concern that the pills may have been stolen, he ordered a new bottle to monitor the contents on a daily basis. Shortly after the new bottle arrived, he again checked the contents and 40 pills had been removed. Based on this, Dr. Scheps ordered a surveillance camera to place in the lab, an area that is accessed by several employees and is not an area where privacy is expected. When the initial camera malfunctioned, he ordered another. On 1/19/21, While waiting for the new camera to arrive, Dr. Scheps also discovered that some Meperidine/Demerol (Schedule II narcotic) vials had been tampered with. One of the vials was completely empty and others had the tops removed and were re-attached with hotglue.

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On 1/26/21, the new camera was operational. Dr. Scheps observed the camera footage taken that day and observed one of his employees, Patricia “Tricia” Johnson enter the lab area. She removed the medication cabinet key from a drawer and unlocked the cabinet. She then removed a new/unused large bottle of Meperidine Syrup (500m) and placed it in her purse.
On 1/27/21, Dr. Scheps observed Patricia Johnson place a vial of Midazolam 10m) directly into her purse from the cabinet.
Dr. Scheps checked the medication logs and noticed Patricia Johnson has been ordering several medications and in quantities the doctors were not aware of, nor would they have approved had they known. He also noticed several discrepancies and the inventory was not accurate to the amounts the records reflected.

On 1/29/21, Dr. Scheps noticed a shipment of Midazolam (10-12 boxes) had arrived. He took the keys to the medication cabinet and placed them on his person to avoid the medications from being removed without his knowledge. When be entered the lab later in the day, be observed the cabinet was standing open. The medication side door was ajar and the right side, where the log was kept, was closed and locked. Dr. Scheps asked Patricia Johnson if she had logged the order into the written log and she advised she had, Dr. Scheps, knowing he had possession of the keys, asked her again if she was sure she logged the shipment. She again stated yes. When Dr. Scheps advised that he had the keys and the log side of the cabinet was locked, he stated she was suspicious in her answers. When Dr. Schep later checked the camera feed, he observed Patricia retrieve a set of keys from her person, open the left side medication cabinet and place a box of Midazolam in her purse. Dr. Schep then knew Patricia had made herself a personal copy of the medication cabinet keys.
Dr. Scheps then showed me camera footage from the camera bidden in the lab on his computer. On 1/26/21 at 1311 hrs, I observed a white female with blonde hair, that Dr. Scheps identified as Patricia Johnson, place what he identified as Meperidine syrup (500m) in her purse. On 1/28/21 at 1252 hrs, the same female retrieved a vial of Midazolam, from the cabinet and place it in her purse. On 1/29/21, the video displayed the same female retrieving a box of Medazolam and place it in the same purse.

Dr. Scheps then showed me camera footage from the camera hidden in the lab on his computer. On 1/26/21 at 1311 hrs, I observed a white female with blonde hair, that Dr. Scheps identified as Patricia Johnson, place what he identified as Meperidine syrup (500m) in her purse. On 1/28/21 at 1252 hrs, the same female retrieved a vial of Midazolam, from the cabinet and place it in her purse. On 1/29/21, the video displayed the same female retrieving a box of Medazolam and place it in the same purse.

Dr. Scheps estimates the amounts of missing/stolen prescription medications to be approximately $10,000 in value, however, after a full audit of the medications ordered and not administered, the actual stolen value was discovered to be $66,504.33.

Upon conducting a post-Miranda recorded interview with Johnson, she began to lie to me several times throughout the interview. When Johnson was confronted with the information that she had been captured via surveillance camera stealing medications, she admitted that she had been stealing them from her employer due to her husband losing his insurance. Patricia Johnson advised her husband had been prescribed Medazolam by his physician, Dr. Hostler, but due to the loss of insurance, she couldn’t afford the medication. Due to this, she began stealing the medications around September/October 2020 for her husband, who suffered a stroke in July 2020 leaving him with brain damage and seizures. When confronted with the large amount of Meperidine (Demerol) that had been stolen, she advised she had surgery in February 2020 and was taking the Demerol herself for pain.

Upon pulling a medication history for Ronald, it was discovered that he had never been prescribed Medazolam by any of his physicians.

Upon pulling a medication history for Patricia, it was discovered that she had never been prescribed Demerol by any of her physicians.

Patricia voluntarily signed a written consent to search for her purse to retrieve the stolen items from her purse. In the center zipper area of Patricia’s purse, which was located in the lab office that the medication was kept in, I retrieved a box of Medazolam that contained 10 unopened vials. It appeared to be the same box that she was captured on surveillance video stealing. I also located several syringes, a cutting instrument (believed to have been used to carefully cut labels and remove vial tops carefully where Patricia later glued them back on the vial to appear in tact). I also located a small bottle that Patricia identified as Demerol liquid and a water bottle with ‘TJ” marked on the lid that Patricia stated also contained Demerol, There were also used vials of injectible Demerol and 2 additional vials of Midazolame.

Patricia also voluntarily signed a written consent to search for her residence located at 2590 Walker Rd,
Lakeland to retrieve the remainder of the stolen medications and empty vials from her residence. Upon asking Patricia if she would allow us to come to her residence to retrieve the remaining medications, syringes and vials,
she consented.

Patricia led Det. Anderson and I into her bedroom and retrieved the items from various locations around her bedroom. I observed an uncapped syringe and a partially used vial on the dresser. Patricia advised since her husband just had a seizure, one of the family members must have given him an injection. Patricia had a large amount of empty vials in baskets and boxes that were hidden throughout her bedroom. She also had unused medication in her safe, which she turned over to me. Det. Carver arrived and Patricia also allowed him to enter. There was a large amount of used vials of Midazolam and Meperidine (Demerol). Multiple unused syringes were also recovered, which Patricia advised were taken from the dental office. Det Anderson and I collected all of the recovered items. Patricia also voluntarily provided her uniforms to us to return to the dental omce, as tbey requested ber not to return. I advised Patricia that I would return the uniforms for her when I returned to the office to retrieve additional evidence being prepared by Scheps. Upon looking at the legs of the uniform pants, some of them appeared to have puncture/needle marks in the upper legs of the pants.

Due to Patricia being the primary caretaker for Ronald und there being a lot of required documentation that would need to be obtained from the medical suppliers, as wen as a medication audit that needed to be conducted by the dental office, it was determined that charges would be filed with the State Attorney’s Office on a later date.
A spreadsheet detailing the medication audit, as well as the above recovered items were entered into LPD property and evidence.
Due to the three different incidents of theft that were captured on video, I charged Patricia Johnson with three counts of Theft of a Controlled Substance. These thefts were identified by Dr. Scheps as Meperidine (Demerol) on 1/26/21 at 1311 hrs, Midazolam on 1/28/21 at 1252 hrs and Midazolam again on 1/29/21. Miperidine is a Schedule II controlled narcotic and Midazolam is a Schedule IV controlled narcotic.
Due to the large amount of medications that were stolen, along with a large number of syringes, the tampering with multiple vials and bottles of medicadon which created a loss of these items to the business, Patricia was also charged with Grand Theft $20,000 < $100,000.
Patricia was also charged with Fraudulently obtaining prescription medications due to her ordering medications she wasn’t authorized to order in quantities and concentrations she wasn’t authorized to order, using Dr. Tarver’s DEA login.

On 2/24/2021 I was advised by Scheps that they had discovered 12 seperate DEA 222 forms that Patricia had forged the doctor’s names upon to authorize the ordering of Meperidine 50mg/5ml from Henry Schein and
Southern Anesthesia. These companies are medical suppliers that the dental office utilized for their supplies.
Dr. Scheps advised none of the victims/doctors would ever consent to, nor authorize Patricia to fraudulently sign their names to any forms. Dr. Bopp and Dr. Tarver confirmed to Dr. Scheps that the forms (entered into evidence) displayed a signature that was not their own on 12 seperate occasions and desired prosecution. Due to this, Patricia was also charged with 12 counts of Criminal use of personal identification.”

Johnson was arrested on May 12, 2021 and taken to Polk County Jail. On May 13, 2021 Johnson was released from prison after posting $9,000 bond.

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Staff Reporter

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