Pharmacist sentenced to probation, jail time for stealing drugs


A Maple Grove pharmacist, who admitted to stealing 2,000 pills, was sentenced to three years on probation and four months in the county workhouse, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Thursday.

Jeffrey Grothaus, 49, was ordered to report to the Plymouth lockup Sept. 19. Hennepin County District Court Judge Tanya Bransford, during the Wednesday sentencing, rejected the request by Grothaus’ attorney that he be sentenced to a gross misdemeanor instead of a felony and only have to do 20 days of sentence-to-serve work. However, she also rejected the argument of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office that Grothaus serve five months in the workhouse.

Judge Bransford did say that giving Grothaus the type of sentence he was seeking would underestimate the seriousness of the four felonies to which he pleaded guilty on July 9. He pleaded guilty to four counts of theft by swindle of a controlled substance during the period of May 1, 2015 to Aug. 2, 2016.

In July 2016, an internal investigation by HealthPartners at two of its Park Nicollet pharmacies found an unusually large amount of adjustments made to the inventory within the pharmacy management system at the stores. The stores, Carlson Pharmacy at 15111 Twelve Oaks Center Drive in Minnetonka and Wayzata Pharmacy at 250 North Central Ave. in Wayzata, had only one pharmacist in common when the adjustments occurred: Grothaus.

For instance, an adjustment out of the Wayzata Pharmacy of 500 tablets of Zolpidem was entered into the store’s computer. However, a search of all HealthPartners/Park Nicollet pharmacies failed to show those 500 pills turning up somewhere else, the complaint states.
Video showed Grothaus making the adjustments on the computer and taking an item, slipping it into his pocket, then removing it from his pocket and putting it into his locker.
Grothaus admitted he began stealing drugs in June or July of 2012. He mostly stole Zolpidem and Tramadol, according to the criminal complaint and he told investigators they were all for his personal use.  

The terms of his probation requires Grothaus to continue with weekly support groups, not use any controlled substances, submit to random drug testing and undergo another chemical dependency evaluation if he has any issues with his drug tests.