ELLSWORTH, Maine — An Orland woman who worked as a pharmacy technician at the local Hannaford supermarket has been sentenced to serve 60 days in jail for stealing prescription drugs from her employer.

Kristy Beaulieu, 31, is believed to have stolen thousands of pills from the supermarket pharmacy over six months from late 2012 to early 2013, according to officials. Beaulieu took the pills, she told investigators, to control her back pain.

Beaulieu pleaded guilty to two counts of stealing drugs, according to records on file at Hancock County Superior Court. She is serving 60 days for one of those charges and for the second charge she has a deferred disposition for one year.

If she stays out of trouble until Jan. 9, 2015, the second charge of stealing drugs will be reduced from a class C felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, to a class D misdemeanor, the maximum jail time for which is 364 days.

Beaulieu’s 60-day term was stayed until Jan. 20 to give her time to fulfill her two-weeks’ notice in resigning from another job. She has to pay a fine of $500 by May 2 of this year.

Beaulieu has no prior criminal record, Assistant Attorney General Patrick Larson told Justice Ann Murray at Beaulieu’s sentencing on Jan. 6. She has been cooperative said Hannaford officials and officers of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency who investigated the case, Larson told the judge.

In April of last year, the Maine Board of Pharmacy reached a consent agreement with Beaulieu that stripped her of her pharmacy technician license and fined her $1,500.

According to the agreement, Beaulieu came to the attention of investigators after pharmacy staff discovered that while she was employed at the store, approximately 7,300 Hydrocodone pills were missing from their inventory. As a result, staff started conducting daily inventory of their Hydrocodone supply and installed covert surveillance cameras in the pharmacy, the agreement indicates.

Beaulieu was caught on camera stealing the pills, according to the document, and later admitted to officials to stealing Hydrocodone and Alprazolam pills from the pharmacy.

According to an article published last fall by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, 16 pharmacists and 41 pharmacy technicians in Maine lost their licenses from 2003 to 2013 for stealing prescription medication while on the job. Those who are caught are believed to represent a fraction of pharmacy employees who steal drugs at work, the article quoted industry experts as saying.

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....