A pharmacist working at a Modesto Rite Aid was arrested Wednesday after he was caught with hundreds of prescription pills, authorities said.
The 61-year-old Stockton resident, Dennis Zetter, also reportedly was seen drinking on the job, according to Sgt. Rick Armendariz of the Modesto Police Department.
On Wednesday at 9:40 p.m., Modesto police officers were called to the Rite Aid Pharmacy at 1032 Oakdale Road — just south of Wylie Drive — to investigate a theft involving Zetter.
Zetter works as a “traveling pharmacist,” Armendariz said. Whether he works for Rite Aid, or is contracted by the national drug store chain through another company, could not be verified.
Attempts to reach Zetter by phone at his home were unsuccessful. Reached late Thursday afternoon, Cheryl Slavinsky, Rite-Aid’s director of public relations, could not comment on this case because of the continuing police investigation.
Armendariz said Zetter’s area is the entire Central Valley, and that he would work at one pharmacy for a couple of days, then move to another. He said the police report noted that Zetter had recently worked at a Stockton pharmacy.
Rite Aid’s loss prevention officers were at the Modesto store Wednesday investigating Zetter. They reportedly had information suggesting Zetter was suspected of having done this before, Armendariz said.
The officers began investigating Zetter when he arrived to work at 9 a.m. He was scheduled to be off at 9 p.m.
At some point during the day, the officers observed Zetter making several trips to his car, where he smoked cigarettes and drank from a travel mug, according to Armendariz.
At the end of each trip, the officers looked into the car and noticed an accumulation of various pills and pill bottles.
The officers confronted Zetter and detained him after watching him allegedly steal a bottle of alcohol.
Modesto police officers recovered about 350 pills determined to have been stolen from the pharmacy on Zetter’s person and in his car.
They included Diazepam, Acetaminophen codeine phosphate, and Alprazolam, as well as several bottles of Promethazine codeine syrup.
The travel coffee mug he had been drinking from was filled with an alcoholic beverage.
Asked if Zetter could have been filling prescriptions while inebriated, Armendariz said: “I don’t know if there were any indicators that they saw him becoming inebriated.”
Armendariz said officers didn’t realize there was alcohol in Zetter’s coffee mug until they detained him.
Slavinsky of Rite Aid urged any customer who has concerns about their prescription to bring it back and have their medication verified. She said that’s a long-standing customer service policy and not just tied to this incident.
Whether Zetter was using some of the pills or planning to sell them is under investigation.
According to drugs.com:
Diazepam is used for the management of anxiety disorders or for the short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety.
Alprazolam is used to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and anxiety caused by depression.
Promethazine is used to treat allergy symptoms such as itching, runny nose, sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, hives, and itchy skin rashes.
Zetter was arrested and booked into the county jail on suspicion of possession of controlled substance, possession of uncontrolled substance, and burglary.
The arrest comes eight days after police busted a 74-year-old Modesto man after seizing 80,000 pills of addictive painkillers from his home. A little more than a month ago, Modesto police officers arrested a mom suspected of selling pills in front of her young child and a friend.
Police ask anyone who may have information regarding this incident to please call Crime Stoppers at 521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward. Tipsters can also text information to Crime Stoppers by sending a text message to 274637. Just type “TIP704” along with your message.