Yogesh Patel: The former Woodstock pharmacist is being sentenced for fraud, theft, possession and trafficking of fentanyl and other narcotics

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Yogesh Patel had a happy, privileged upbringing in his native India, a successful career in Canada, a young family and life free of financial worries or addiction issues.

So what motivated the 47-year-old former Woodstock pharmacist, with no criminal record, into stealing opioids, including 3,000 fentanyl patches and 1,500 hydromorphone tablets with a street value of approximately $1 million?

In April, Patel admitted that between 2013 and 2016 he forged documents, defrauded and stole prescription narcotics from Rexall and the Ontario Drug Benefit Plan, as well possessed fentanyl, hydromorphone and morphine for the purpose of trafficking.

Patel’s attorney, Jim Dean, said his client really has no reasoning for his decision to sell opioids to a Woodstock man also facing drug-related charges.

“He has no explanation as to why he did what he did,” Dean said. “He is extremely remorseful — he has lost success, honour and integrity through his own choices.”

Immigrating to Canada in 2000, Patel studied pharmacy in Manitoba and worked for Loblaws after graduating and an internship.

In 2011 Patel was hired by Rexall Pharmacy in the Sobey’s plaza in Woodstock where he was considered a valued employee, became the store’s manager and even received bonuses for good work.

Patel became friendly with co-accused William Minton, who in August 2014 told Patel he was suffering because his doctor could no longer prescribe him fentanyl.

“When he told Yogesh about his prescription, Mr. Minton would cry and talk about his pain and inability to address it,” he said. “That is when he made the decision to go beyond the law and started to provide Mr. Minton with fentanyl.”

While Dean said Patel never charged money, Patel admits to receiving perfume, alcohol and cash for the drugs.

Dean is asking for a penitentiary sentence of two to four years for his client, or two years plus three years of probation.

Submissions and sentence suggestions are expected by the Crown are expected Monday afternoon.


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