London

Woodstock pharmacist who stole and sold drugs sent to prison for 10 years

A former Woodstock pharmacist is facing 10 years in federal prison after admitting to stealing and selling drugs and defrauding the Ontario Drug Benefit plan.

Yogesh Patel stole 3,000 fentanyl and 1,500 hydromorphone patches with a street value of about $1M

Yogesh Patel, a former Woodstock pharmacist charged with drug trafficking, is set to be sentenced September 19. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

A former Woodstock pharmacist is facing a decade in federal prison after admitting to stealing and selling drugs and defrauding the Ontario Drug Benefit plan.

Yogesh Patel, 47, stole 3,000 fentanyl and 1,500 hydromorphone patches with a street value of about $1 million between 2013 and 2016 from a Rexall Pharmacy in Woodstock.

Last April, the Kitchener resident admitted to stealing the drugs for the purpose of trafficking and forging documents for about 150 prescriptions.

Patel's lawyer Jim Dean wasn't surprised by the lengthy sentence, given all the attention being paid to the nation-wide opioid crisis.

"We've all seen the news articles and reports of people overdosing and all of the issues we're having with fentanyl," he said. "They [the Department of Justice] want to see stiffer penalties and increase the denunciation and the deterrence of these offences. So they're coming in high on their penalties for the same."

Stiff sentence

Initially, the crown sought a sentence of up to 17 years in prison.

The defence asked for two to four years on drug related charges and a six-month concurrent sentence on forged documents.

Dean said the justice described Patel as "the gate keeper of narcotics to ensure the public is protected from them." A role the justice said Patel failed to fulfil.

Dean said the father of two is remorseful for what he did.

Patel was joined by his wife and nephew in a Woodstock courtroom on Tuesday when he was sentenced to 11 years behind bars on drug related charges and a two year concurrent sentence on fraud related charges.

He received a nine month credit for serving time under strict bail conditions – leaving him with a 10 year and 3 month sentence.  

Patel will serve several weeks of his sentence at London's Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre before being transferred to a federal prison.

In July 2016, Patel voluntarily agreed that he would never again apply to be a pharmacist.