A former postal service employee who stole prescription pain medications from the mail was sentenced to four months in prison and one year of supervised release by a federal judge on Friday.
James H. Dzimitrowicz, Jr., 47, of North Pole, intercepted packages containing federally controlled drugs sent from Fairbanks pharmacies to U.S. military veterans and patients of Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center around the state.
According to a federal indictment, the thefts took place between July 28, 2011 and Jan. 24, 2014 while Dzimitrowicz was employed at the downtown Fairbanks post office.
The case was originally heard in state court but was dismissed at the 11th hour. Dzimitrowicz had already entered a guilty plea and was scheduled for sentencing when the state withdrew from the case last fall and referred it to federal court.
At Friday’s sentencing hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline heard testimony from several people involved in the case.
Daniel Jenson, the pharmacy chief at Chief Andrew Isaac, denounced Dzimitrowicz for his “callous, selfish and injurious” actions that left surgery and cancer patients “in agony.” One rural cancer patient went into seizures and had to be medically evacuated at the cost of over $20,000 because Dzimitrowicz stole his phenobarbital prescription, according to Jenson.
Robert D. Ward, Jr., a human resources manager for the U.S. Postal Service, said Dzimitrowicz’s actions damaged the agency’s reputation.
“We exist because of the public’s trust. He destroyed that trust,” Ward said.
Dzimitrowicz’s attorney, M.J. Haden, characterized her client as an honorable man who developed PTSD after serving in the first Gulf War. She said his mental state was further harmed after he returned from the war and witnessed his friend die in a gold mining accident.
Haden told Beistline that Dzimitrowicz became addicted to prescription pain medication after being prescribed Oxycontin after a workplace injury.
Haden objected to the pre-sentence report prepared by a federal probation officer, saying the street value of the drugs should not be considered as a sentencing factor because Dzimitrowicz did not steal them for monetary gain, but instead to feed his own addiction.
Beistline told Dzimitrowicz he appreciated his military service but it would be a “miscarriage of justice” if he walked without jail time.
“We all have problems,” Beistline said. “You have to deal with it, but you don’t do it by hurting other people.”
Beistline said he took into consideration the fact that Dzimitrowicz had “gone through this twice,” and felt a four- month sentence was “sufficient but not greater than needed.”
“There has to be consequences,” Beistline said. “You committed a serious crime that we cannot tolerate.”
Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7582. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.