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Pennington man convicted of theft; prescription forgery charge dismissed

WALTER LITTRELL • Mar 8, 2007 at 4:51 AM

JONESVILLE - A Pennington Gap man charged with theft from his employer and with attempting to pass a forged prescription was convicted of the misdemeanor theft charge following a hearing in Lee County General District Court Wednesday. The felony forgery charge was dismissed.

Terrance James "Matthew" Clark, 24, 819 E. Morgan Ave., Pennington Gap, was charged Feb. 8 as he left work while police were investigating the alleged forgery.

During a preliminary hearing on the felony charge and trial for the misdemeanor, Capt. Taylor Scott, an investigator for the Lee County Sheriff's Department, testified that he was called to the Food City Pharmacy in Pennington Gap to investigate a suspicious prescription that was allegedly dropped off by Clark to be filled. Scott said as he was wrapping up that investigation, he was called regarding an alleged theft by Clark from the nearby Pizza Hut.

Scott said he arrested Clark as he was leaving the restaurant and later found Clark to be in possession of money with identifiable markings from the Pizza Hut.

In investigating the forged prescription, Scott said he called the nurse practitioner who purported wrote the prescription. When contacted by Scott, the nurse practitioner said he did not write it.

The nurse practitioner, William Saunders, who works at the Lonesome Pine Hospital emergency room, testified that while the signature resembled his, it was not his signature. He pointed out various aspects of the prescription that indicated to him that he did not write it. He also noted that he has a signature stamp that contains much of the information on his prescriptions, yet that information was handwritten on the prescription form.

Saunders additionally testified that he does not remember ever seeing Clark as a patient.

Milton Stapleton, the pharmacist, said he became suspicious when he first saw the prescription due to several of the ways it had been filled out. These reasons mirrored what Saunders had earlier noted.

Stapleton added that when Clark left the prescription, he claimed he was dropping it off for a friend. When the man gave his name, said the pharmacist, he noticed the name was the same as the one on the prescription that was reportedly for a friend.

Stapleton added that Clark seemed to be nervous while they talked.

While the pharmacist said he recalls seeing Clark, he was not absolutely certain that the defendant is the person who left the prescription.

Defense attorney Tom Rasnic then offered a motion to dismiss the forgery charge, and Judge Larry Lewis granted the motion.

He did find Clark guilty of the petit larceny and sentenced him to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine plus payment of restitution. Clark indicated he would appeal that conviction.

Testimony in that case indicated that the night manager the day before the theft had noticed a $10 bill with a date written on it. She said she left that money in the safe for operations the following day. The day manager testified that she came to work that morning, counted her money and put it in the register.

Later Clark came to work and wanted to exchange a torn $10 bill for one in better shape. Minutes later, she said, she heard the register open and saw Clark standing in front of it. While she said she was not able to see him take anything from the cash drawer, she said she could not clearly see both hands.

After Clark closed the drawer, he asked to leave to pick up a prescription.

The manager said she thought Clark was not acting like himself, so she advised him to take the day off. When he left the business, she said, she acted on a hunch and counted the money and learned the drawer was $40 short, although the business was not yet open.

Scott testified that Clark was in possession of a $10 bill with the same date as that mentioned by the night manager.

Following the conclusion of the hearing, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Damie Carter said she intends to obtain videotape from the pharmacy and attempt a direct indictment via the grand jury on the forgery charge.

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