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Two men avoid prison in Darien drug heist

Updated 10:36 am, Monday, August 4, 2014
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UPDATE: According to the state's attorney the case against Matthew Bradford was dismissed.

STAMFORD -- A New Canaan and Norwalk man, who allegedly helped steal more than 12,000 prescription pain pills from a Darien pharmacy, were granted a diversionary program for first offenders that if successfully completed will wipe away their burglary, larceny and drug charges.

Matthew Bradford, 23, of New Canaan and Frank Stashenko, 24, of Norwalk were granted the accelerated rehabilitation program by Judge Gary White at state Superior Court in Stamford as the owners of Darien's Grieb's Pharmacy looked on.

Bradford, a former counter clerk at the Post Road pharmacy, and Stashenko, a former delivery driver for the pharmacy, must complete paying $60,000 restitution a month before the program is completed two years from now, White said.

According to court documents, Bradford and Stashenko were involved in an inside scheme at the pharmacy that involved another former Grieb's counter clerk Donald Hegermiller, 24, who, after being questioned in July 2008 by police, said the three had been stealing large amounts of drugs from the pharmacy from 2005 well into 2008.

State's Attorney David Cohen said the drugs were stolen by short-changing customers and getting into the pharmacy's safe where they took high dosage OxyContin and Percocet pills and either took them for themselves or sold them on the street.

As security measures were instituted in 2007 and 2008, presumably because the potent drugs were going missing on a regular basis, the three became more adept at their burglaries. The three got a hold of a key to the front door and made copies and then swiped the store's alarm code in order to let themselves in after hours to steal more pills without detection, Cohen said.

According to Bradford's arrest affidavit, the alarm system showed that there were a dozen unauthorized entries to the pharmacy between March 8, 2008 and April 22, 2008.

The three were arrested in July and August 2008 after an audit of the pharmacy by the Drug Control Division of the state Department of Consumer Protection found that more than 12,000 of the narcotic pills had vanished from the pharmacy.

Cohen said he had no objection to Bradford and Stashenko enterning the accelerated rehabilitation program.

Hegermiller has enrolled in a drug and alcohol program that could wipe away his burglary, larceny and drug charges. He too must pay $60,000 in restitution.

Bradford, who became addicted to painkillers, told the Grieb's owners that he was very sorry for the damage he caused.

Turning to them in the gallery he said, "I hope one day you will find it in your heart to forgive me," he said.

Stashenko told the pharmacy owners that his actions were "ignorant and immature."

"I am very ashamed¦ I am truly sorry," he said.

Grieb's co-owner Michael Raflowitz said the thefts had become a long and painful experience for he and his partner and their wives.

"These two young men deserve a chance to turn their lives around," Raflowitz said.