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Woman charged with stealing opioids from pharmacy where she worked

WILLMAR -- A Willmar woman is facing felony drug charges for allegedly stealing opioid painkillers at the pharmacy where she worked. Amber Rae Morton, 26, of Willmar, made her first appearance Wednesday in Kandiyohi County District Court on two f...

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WILLMAR - A Willmar woman is facing felony drug charges for allegedly stealing opioid painkillers at the pharmacy where she worked.

Amber Rae Morton, 26, of Willmar, made her first appearance Wednesday in Kandiyohi County District Court on two felony charges of third-degree drug possession and one charge of felony theft.

Morton was released on her own recognizance with orders to remain law-abiding and to stay in contact with probation and to not possess alcohol or drugs. Her next court date is Sept. 11.

Morton is accused of stealing at least 330 hydrocodone and oxycodone pills from the Cash Wise Pharmacy at Affiliated Community Medical Centers. The thefts were alleged to have taken place from November 2016 through March 2017.

When a customer complained April 2 that her hydrocodone prescription was short about 30 pills, a pharmacist checked computer records and then video surveillance from the day the prescription was filled, according to the criminal complaint filed against Morton.

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The video allegedly showed Morton pulling the prescription from the pickup area, dropping to her hands and knees behind the service counter and dumping pills from the prescription bottle into her hand. She then allegedly put the pills into her pocket, resealed the bottle and bag and returned it to the rack.

The pharmacy manager also recalled similar complaints from customers in the preceding months.

When the company's loss prevention manager interviewed Morton, she allegedly admitted to taking pills two to four times each month beginning in November 2016. Morton allegedly said the opioid pills were of different doses and types, depending on what she could find.

According to the criminal complaint, her most conservative estimates indicated that about 330 pills were missing.

Related Topics: CRIMETHEFT
In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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