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UConn Student Health Services pharmacist arrested for stealing $40,000 in items, drugs

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STORRS–A former pharmacist for the UConn Student Health Services has been arrested for stealing from the school by purchasing items through the SHS for personal use and not paying the school back for the items.

UConn Police determined after an investigation that former pharmacy supervisor Michael Olzinski, 46, of Coventry, had illegally obtained controlled substances using forgery while employed by the school.

He was charged on April 20 with 173 counts of second-degree forgery, one count of first-degree larceny, illegal distribution of controlled substances, illegal possession of controlled substances, obtaining controlled substances by means of fraud and deceit, and failure to keep records. It was determined that the illegal activity occurred between April 1, 2012 through April 2015, though it could have been longer.

According to information released by UConn Spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz, insurance companies were billed about $34,000 for 232 prescriptions that were determined not to be valid. The university suffered a loss of about $40,000 due to the missing pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter inventory and cash payments.

Despite the charges, there are no indications that students were given medications illegally or denied medications they were legally prescribed.

The investigation began after the UConn Office of Audit, Compliance and Ethics did a routine audit of the SHS in the spring of 2015 and found a large number of diapers and other infant and toddler care items had been ordered for no reason. All of the items had been ordered by one person, Olzinski, and there was no evidence that he had reimbursed the school funds for the items, which weren’t found in the SHS inventory and had not been given to patients.

Olzinski, who was hired as a pharmacist by the school in 1999, was immediately placed on administrative leave on April 9, 2015, and his access to the SHS and campus were restricted. On June 8, 2015, Olzinski told the SHS he would be retiring on June 30 of that year, but his separation from the school was listed as “not in good standing.”

After the initial phases of the audit revealed the wrongdoing, UConn Police got involved with continuing the audit and investigation.

It was determined through the continued investigation that Olzinski had ordered a large number of prescriptions for patients who were not students but were people he knew. Members who work for the SHS aren’t allowed to prescribe or fill medications for non-students. These prescriptions amounted to $25,645.

Many other prescription drugs and controlled substances that had been ordered were no where to be found in the inventory and hadn’t been prescribed or given to patients, and there was no evidence of any sort of reimbursement for the funds used to order those items. About 4,000 Oxycodone pills were unaccounted for over the years.

In addition, he voided 181 transactions in the logs to steal about $3,410 in cash.

It was also found that he had traded over-the-counter medications for UConn athletic apparel, which was revealed through emails he exchanged with another UConn employee, as well as emails with his wife.

In one email with his wife, she asked for “Neutrogena pure & free baby faces spf 50, Neutrogena wet kids spray, my sunblock, 1 case of diapers, nasonex (sp?).” Olzinski replied, “Can’t get your Neutrogena but the rest are all set!” An order form was found from that day that purchased from Amerisource: 1 cart of Huggies Snug and Dry Diapers size 4, 1 carton of Huggies Diaper Snug Dry Step 3, 1 x Neutrogena Sun Baby Pure SPF 60 3 oz, 1 x Neutrogena Sun Wet Skin Kids SPF70 5 oz.

When he was interviewed about the baby products, he initially said he hadn’t done anything, then said he ordered the products for a pregnant student whose parents weren’t supporting her and who had no money. He said he felt bad for her and didn’t charge her. However, he was then shown the email from his wife and said “I thought I would help myself out too.” He said he ordered personal use items once or twice a month from Amerisource.

In all, about 315 over-the-counter medications were unaccounted for between 2013 and 2015, totaling about $5,833.

Though Olzinski has since retired, the state’s attorney general can revoke his pension if he is convicted of a crime related to his employment. The attorney general hasn’t yet pursued that option, but it would be up to him, not UConn, to do so.

Since the investigation, the SHS has strengthened internal controls and added checks and balances for operations involving prescribing, ordering and payment for prescriptions.

You can read the full arrest warrant detailing his misdoings here.

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