November 22, 2012 | Volume 117, Issue No. 47

Deputy faces seven counts of criminal conduct

Pine County Sheriff’s Deputy Justin Arthur Stoddard, 27, has been charged with seven counts of criminal conduct following allegations of theft of prescription narcotics while on duty.

Last week in a sheriff’s press release, it was announced Stoddard had been put on administrative leave pending review of the complaint by Kanabec County Attorney’s office. That office presented a charging document to Pine County Sheriff Robin Cole and Judge Krista Martin.

Those charges include two counts of theft of a controlled substance, each carrying a fine of $20,000 and/or 10 years in prison; two counts of fifth degree possession of a controlled substance, each carrying a fine of $10,000 and/or five years in prison; two counts of fifth degree controlled substance — procuring or possessing by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or subterfuge, each carrying a fine of $10,000 and/or five years in prison; and, one count of misconduct of a public office carrying a fine of $3,000 and/or one year in jail.

The formal complaint states that Deputy Stoddard responded to a residence in Hinckley as requested by the first complainant because of a custody dispute. After dealing with the custody dispute, the deputy asked if the complainant was taking any medications. She told him she was taking oxycodone, a schedule two narcotic.

Stoddard said he would need pictures of the location where she stored the oxycodone in case the complainant’s ex-husband made an issue of whether their child could reach the medication. Using his iPhone, Stoddard took pictures of the medications in the complainant’s closet.

Stoddard returned three times to the complainant’s residence, without invitation, to photograph the medication because the first pictures were blurry. He took pictures in the bathroom where he said there was better light.

He returned three more times because he said his boss needed more documentation. The complainant observed the deputy pouring the pills into his hand. She discovered that 43 pills were missing.

A few weeks later, Stoddard knocked on the door of some Pine City residences asking if they’d seen a suspicious car in the area which he said was being done to check for unoccupied residences. He said daytime thieves stole narcotics and then asked if the residents had narcotics. When they said they did, he asked to take pictures of the medication bottles in case something happened to them. Stoddard took them to his squad car to take pictures of the bottles then returned them. He returned to the residences saying he’d deleted the pictures and needed to take more pictures, then returned the bottles. Oxycodone and Percocet pills were missing from each of the three incidents.

All alleged thefts occurred while Stoddard was on duty.

Chisago County Investigator Clifford C. Sheppeck interviewed Stoddard at the Pine County Sheriff’s Office. Stoddard initially denied the thefts, then admitted he had a problem with medication and admitted stealing the pills, according to the formal complaint.

On November 16, Stoddard made his first court appearance in Pine County District Court. The charges were reviewed and Stoddard was released after posting the imposed $5,000 conditional bail.

Shortly before the hearing began Stoddard resigned his position as a Pine County deputy sheriff.

His next court appearance is set for January of 2013.

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