PARIS — A former pharmacist admitted Friday that he wrote prescriptions to his dog in order to to acquire painkillers.
John J. Bartash Jr., 64, of 525 Wheeler St. in Rumford, pleaded guilty in Oxford County Superior Court to acquiring drugs by deception. The plea dismissed another count of the same charge, as well as two counts each of stealing drugs and forgery.
Justice Andrew Horton accepted a plea agreement, sentencing Bartash to a fully suspended one-year prison sentence and two years of probation. Bartash must also pay a $2,000 fine.
"Really, the state doesn't see the purpose of him serving any jail time," Assistant Attorney General David Fisher said.
Fisher said Bartash wrote a prescription for 20 pills of Fioricet to "Stella Rose Bartash," his 9-year-old English bulldog. Fioricet is a pain reliever coupled with a barbiturate and caffeine. At the time, Bartash was working as a pharmacist at the Rite-Aid in Bethel. Fisher said Bartash filled the prescription and kept it for himself.
On Oct. 14, Bartash signed a consent agreement with the Maine Attorney General's Office and the Board of Pharmacy, part of the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. According to the agreement, Bartash was fired from Rite-Aid after writing a prescription for five 500 mg Vicodin pills to the dog and signing the name of a local veterinarian on Aug. 10, 2008. The agreement says that Bartash also filled that prescription and kept it.
The Board of Pharmacy suspended Bartash's license for 30 days on Sept. 9, 2008. Under the consent agreement, Bartash admitted the wrongdoing, accepted a reprimand, and agreed to the revocation of his license. The agreement says he may apply for relicensing at "reasonable intervals" and must demonstrate that he would not "pose a threat to himself or the public."
Bartash was indicted on criminal charges in February. The indictment accused him of filling the Fioricet prescription in May 2008 and the Vicodin prescription in August 2008. The plea dismisses all charges related to the Vicodin prescription.
Fisher said Bartash has no prior criminal record.
Defense lawyer David Austin said Bartash had taken responsibility for the incidents. Austin also said the attitude of the Rite-Aid employees and others involved in the case made it easier for Bartash to enter a plea.
"Every single person involved was very considerate," he said.
Bartash formerly ran The Rumford Drug Store on Congress Street in Rumford. In 1971, Bartash purchased the business from his father, who had operated it since 1934, and took a job with Rite-Aid after selling the store to the chain in 2005.