- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 20, 2014

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A former physical therapy assistant at an eastern Montana hospital has pleaded guilty to conspiring with his boss to steal prescription pain medication from patients’ homes.

Cale Handran of Scobey pleaded guilty Monday to a federal charge of conspiracy to acquire a controlled substance by subterfuge, The Billings Gazette (http://bit.ly/1m0oio9) reported.

U.S. District Judge Susan Watters scheduled sentencing for Sept. 4.

Prosecutors alleged Handran, 33, and physical therapist Kevin Criswell took hydrocodone and oxycodone from patients from January 2011 through August 2012 during home health visits in the Scobey area.

Handran said he would work with a patient while Criswell went through the house looking for prescription medications, or sometimes he searched the house while Criswell worked with the patient.

Handran said the drugs were for personal use.

The investigation began when some residents reported their prescription pain medication had been stolen and others went to the pharmacist to find out why their medication wasn’t working and the pharmacist found they had been replaced with aspirin or Tylenol.

Daniels County Sheriff Skip Baldry has said there were 91 victims.

Criswell, a former University of Montana basketball player who now works in Libby, has pleaded guilty to the same charge and faces sentencing on Sept. 10.

The Board of Physical Therapy sanctioned Criswell earlier this month based on a complaint filed by David Hubbard, CEO of Daniels Memorial Healthcare Center in Scobey.

Hubbard alleged Criswell left an unsupervised assistant to work with a patient while he went to the patient’s house to steal prescription pain pills. Criswell acknowledged doing so several times, the board’s order said.

The Board of Physical Therapy is requiring Criswell to undergo drug-screening tests. Other restrictions include not supervising any assistants or aides for nine months.

Criswell has said he had undergone outpatient addiction therapy.

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Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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