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Former Jefferson Regional tech's drug swapping hearing waived

Patrick Cloonan | Daily News
Former Jefferson Regional Medical Center pharmacy technician Cheryl L. Ashcraft seeks to elude photographers after waiving a preliminary hearing on charges stemming from her alleged swapping of other drugs for oxycodone meant for more than 300 JRMC patients.

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Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, 3:56 a.m.
 

A former Jefferson Regional Medical Center pharmacy technician waived her preliminary hearing Wednesday on charges stemming from an alleged swapping of other drugs for oxycodone.

Cheryl L. Ashcraft, 43, of New Eagle remains free on her own recognizance pending a formal arraignment March 26 at 11 a.m. at the Allegheny County Courthouse.

Ashcraft faces a felony charge of prohibited acts and misdemeanor counts of recklessly endangering another person, prohibited acts-possession of oxycodone, and theft by unlawful taking.

A second misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment was added to the complaint prior to the hearing before Magisterial District Judge Pat A. Capolupo in Pleasant Hills.

It reportedly was added to cover a “Jane Doe” patient at the Jefferson Hills hospital. An earlier reckless endangerment count was filed to cover a “John Doe” patient there.

According to the criminal complaint prepared by Andrew Sakmar, an agent for the state Attorney General's office, Ashcraft substituted Methimazole, an antithyroid drug, or Ondansetron, a drug given to deal with nausea caused during radiation therapy, for oxycodone in hundreds of individual or “blister packs” given to patients.

The drug swaps allegedly occurred between June and October of last year.

Ashcraft's hearing was postponed from last week because she did not have an attorney. She was represented Wednesday by attorney Hannah Akintoye from the county public defender's office.

Assistant district attorney Evan Lowry is prosecuting the case. Attorney Robert G. DelGreco Jr. represented the hospital and said he was satisfied with the waiver.

The hospital also may face civil action, reportedly from at least 15 patients or families of patients who have retained Pittsburgh attorney Brendan B. Lupetin.

A hospital spokeswoman attending Wednesday's hearing said she could not comment on ongoing litigation.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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