Calgary pharmacist charged with stealing 33,000 pills was suspended for similar incidents decade ago

A pharmacist charged with stealing more than 33,000 pills from the Safeway pharmacy in Okotoks, Alta., was disciplined 10 years earlier after even larger quantities of narcotics went missing from a Shoppers Drug Mart in Calgary and a Pharmasave in Canmore.

Woman was disciplined in 2008 after thousands of pills disappeared from other pharmacies

Leanne Rogalsky was convicted in April of stealing tens of thousands of tablets of narcotics that went missing from a Safeway pharmacy in Okotoks. (Facebook / Google Maps)

A pharmacist charged with stealing more than 33,000 pills from the Safeway pharmacy in Okotoks, Alta., was disciplined 10 years earlier after even larger quantities of narcotics went missing from a Shoppers Drug Mart in Calgary and a Pharmasave in Canmore.

Okotoks RCMP announced dozens of charges this week against Leanne Rogalsky, 52, including fraud, theft, breach of trust and trafficking in a controlled substance.

The Mounties allege she created fake patient records and then used fake prescriptions under those patients' names to take the narcotics from the pharmacy.

The offences are alleged to have occurred between Aug. 1, 2012, and Oct. 13, 2017.

In 2008, Rogalsky admitted to a host of allegations brought against her by the Alberta College of Pharmacists with respect to missing drugs at two previous pharmacies where she worked in 2003 and 2004.

39,733 pills missing from Shoppers

In a written decision on the matter, the licensing body for pharmacists said 39,733 tablets of narcotics "were dispensed pursuant to prescriptions that did not exist" from the Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy at Shawnessy Towne Centre, which Rogalsky owned up until December 2003.

An investigation by Shoppers Drug Mart "showed that this volume of narcotics had been ordered and could not be accounted for," reads the college's written decision.

"It also appeared that inventory adjustments were made to the store's computer inventory which disguised the large number of narcotics that were missing," it adds.

The decision also notes that Rogalsky was "alone at the pharmacy" when many of the narcotics went missing — including Demerol, Oxycocet, Ativan, and Dexedrine — and she was "not able to provide any explanation" for the missing drugs or altered inventory records.

"The losses encountered by Shoppers Drug Mart at this store stopped after [Rogalsky] resigned in December 2003 and have not occurred since," it adds.

8,000 pills missing from Pharmasave

The decision goes on to say that Rogalsky took a job at a Canmore Pharmasave in June 2004 and, shortly after she started work, "much larger orders of narcotics were made than had been made in the past."

About 8,000 tablets of narcotics then went missing between June and September.

The written decision goes on to note that Rogalsky was observed by other employees at the store — and caught on security cameras — removing narcotics from bottles and placing them in her pocket, then taking items from her pocket and placing them in her mouth.

She was also observed "taking a bag with vials of drugs in it from the office and giving it to [her] husband, who did not pay for it."

Both Rogalsky and her husband indicated to the college's investigator that they "were addicted to narcotics at this time," the decision notes.

"There were no similar losses at the Pharmasave pharmacy after [Rogalsky] ceased employment at the pharmacy," it adds.

Criminal trial and suspension

The college's decision also refers to a 2005 criminal trial.

Court records indicate Rogalsky had faced two counts of theft under $5,000 in 2005, but those charges were dismissed in 2007.

It was on Oct. 7, 2008, that Rogalsky was brought before the hearing tribunal of the Alberta College of Pharmacists and admitted to the allegations surrounding her work at the Calgary Shoppers Drug Mart and Canmore Pharmasave.

In response, the college suspended her registration for four years, with a retroactive start date of Nov. 1, 2004. (She had already received an interim suspension that began on Nov. 9, 2004.)

Rogalsky was also ordered to pay a fine of $2,500 as well as the costs of the investigation and hearing.

Once the suspension expired, she was ordered to follow a host of conditions in order to resume practising, including to submit to random drug tests and to "not act as a licensee or as signing authority for narcotics or controlled drugs" for a period of three years.

As a condition of reinstatement, the college also ordered that "she will make the licensee of any pharmacy in which she works aware of these orders for a period of 36 months."

In an email, the Alberta College of Pharmacists said Thursday that Rogalsky "satisfied the sanctions and conditions of her suspension" and was reinstated as a registered pharmacist in 2009.

CBC News asked Sobeys Inc., which owns Safeway, whether the company was aware of Rogalsky's past suspension, but the company has not yet replied.

Rogalsky was removed from the college's registry of clinical pharmacists as of Oct. 20, and the college is now conducting its own investigation into the latest allegations.

Current charges

The current charges against Rogalsky include:

  • Fraud over $5,000.
  • Theft over $5,000.
  • Breach of trust.
  • 15 counts of trafficking a controlled substance.
  • 15 offences under Canada's Narcotic Control Regulations.

RCMP Cpl. Curtis Peters said trafficking charges don't necessarily imply the sale of drugs.

The allegation, he said, is that she was distributing them to other people.

Rogalsky has been released from custody and is scheduled to appear in court in Okotoks on Dec. 22.