NORWAY – A man who was charged less than two weeks ago in connection with an attempt to acquire prescription pills deceptively at a Lewiston hospital was arrested Saturday at Stephens Memorial Hospital for allegedly attempting the same crime.
But the district attorney’s office Monday dropped the charges against Derek S. Lavoie, 25, of Mechanic Falls because of insufficient evidence.
Lavoie was caught by police at the Norway hospital after he tried to register at the emergency room using the name Eric Leavitt, age 24. A nurse recognized him and told police that he used the same routine when he registered at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center March 23, according to a police report. The nurse works at both hospitals.
After interviewing him at Stephens Memorial, Norway officer Kevin Conger Jr. arrested Lavoie on charges of criminal attempt to acquire drugs by deception and of violating his conditions of release. Lavoie told police that he had left St. Mary’s detoxification program that day and needed medications – Atovan and Xanax – to help with his anxiety.
Sgt. David St. Pierre at the Lewiston Police Department said Monday that Lavoie was arrested March 23 on different charges that stemmed from his unsuccessful scheme to acquire Xanax by using a false name at St. Mary’s.
Because Lavoie did not take overt actions to get the drugs on March 23, like speaking to a doctor about fake symptoms, he was not charged with trying to acquire drugs deceptively.
“As soon as he started being questioned, he fled the hospital and took a cab,” St. Pierre said. Police later stopped the taxi in Lewiston and arrested Lavoie for giving police an incorrect name and for unpaid fines.
According to the Lewiston police report, police had previously alerted hospitals about Lavoie.
Gerry Baril, a Maine Drug Enforcement Agency special agent supervisor for Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, said Monday that his regional agency typically handles between 30 and 50 cases a year of people trying to obtain prescription pills illegally.
Baril said the best way to catch potential offenders is to strengthen cooperation between police departments, pharmacies and physicians.
“Most of the schemes are not complicated,” Baril said. People might frequently change doctors and feign illnesses, steal prescription pads or forge prescription notes.
Emergency rooms are also targeted because a busy physician might prescribe medications for a couple of days to help the patient until they can be seen by their regular doctor.
Norway Police Chief Rob Federico said, “There is a lot of doctor shopping; they’ll go from doctor to doctor to get more prescription for different pills. When we’re made aware of a situation, we’ll let doctors know.”
Hospital officials declined to comment.