By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
A Mercer County judge handed down on Friday what he called a “total mercy sentence” to a woman who admitted stealing more than 15,000 pills from the pharmacy she used to work for.
Michaelene Egelsky was given a suspended state prison sentence of 1 to 3 years – she does not have to serve any time in prison – in favor of 3 years’ probation.
The 1- to 3-year prison term is what she would face if she violates probation or doesn’t keep up with her hefty restitution payments, said Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher J. St. John.
“If you come back here ... your children will be without their mother and you will be in the penitentiary,” St. John told Egelsky, 38, of 106 Wakefield Drive.
She pleaded guilty May 14 to a charge of acquisition of a controlled substance by fraud. The former pharmacy technician for Institutional Care Pharmacy, 175 Canal St., Sharpsville, a closed-door pharmacy that serves nursing homes, was accused by the state Attorney General’s Office with stealing 56,000 pills – most of them the opiate painkiller Hydrocodone – over about three years.
She sold about 100 pills a week for $3 or $4 each to pay bills, not to support her own drug habit, she said.
“It’s hard for me to stand up here and say I made a mistake,” Egelsky said. “When I think of a mistake, I think of an accident. I made a choice, a bad choice, and I knew better. What I did was so stupid.”
She asked for “one chance.”
“I don’t want two or three,” she said. “I just want one.”
St. John said deciding on her sentence was “a difficult call.”
The abuse of prescription drugs has proliferated and the addicted sometimes turn to crime so they can buy more drugs, he said.
“This is obviously a case that calls for a stiff sentence,” St. John said.
On the other hand, he said, Egelsky is a single mother of three, has lost her job, cooperated with investigators after her thefts were discovered, supplied good character letters – even one from a former co-worker – and the Mercer County District Attorney’s Office did not oppose probation.
Egelsky was given credit for 22 days she had spent in jail and was assessed costs and $44,146 restitution.