Former Anne Arundel police lab tech pleads guilty to stealing drugs from department

Tuesday, 05 December 2017, 08:17:39 AM. Annette Box, a former drug lab tech for Anne Arundel police, expected to plead guilty to a number of charges related to her stealing prescription drugs left at the department’s drop off boxes.

The former manager of the Anne Arundel police crime lab pleaded guilty Monday to charges that she stole prescription drugs from drop boxes at district stations for more than two years.

Annette Alchin Box, 48, of Pasadena agreed to the terms of the plea, which sees her plead guilty to three offenses, including misconduct in office.

In exchange for the plea, Deputy State’s Attorney Claude de Vasty Jones said prosecutors will drop 12 other misdemeanor charges and recommend a sentence of six months of active incarceration at Box’s sentencing Feb. 13.

Monday’s hearing was largely a retread of what police have outlined in charging documents, which painted Box as an employee who abused her authority to steal drugs from the department.

Box was arrested after police said they found she’d asked her daughter to bring the garbage bags full of drugs to a neighbor’s home following a crash outside her home.

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The department said the drugs were taken from its drop boxes, which allow the public to dispose of unused or unwanted prescription medications at the agency’s four district stations and at its Millersville headquarters.

Months after Box was arrested, prosecutors expanded the charges against her as they say the investigation found she’d started stealing drugs from the department as early as Aug. 16, 2014.

Vasty Jones said that, between searches of her house and car, more than 1,800 forms of controlled substances were seized along with nearly 10,000 over-the-counter drugs.

She said Box used her position as a manager of the crime lab to manipulate the chain of custody protocol within the department’s computer system to take the drugs while avoiding detection.

Charging documents state that she was also taking oxycodone from the department’s storage, which she leaded guilty to Monday in Circuit Court.

Box’s defense attorney, Peter O’Neill, said Box was bringing the drugs home for “personal use.”

Following her arrest, Police Chief Timothy Altomare suspended all lab operations and initiated a full audit and inventory of the lab in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Police have said the surveillance cameras near the drop boxes were repositioned so as to point directly at them so the pickup of drugs is recorded.

In addition, the department has reinforced its existing policy of requiring an additional officer to supervise and approve the transaction when the boxes are emptied each week.

The day after her arrest, police said Box — who had a key to the drop boxes — was not supervised while she was handling the drugs.

However, the department has not released the full results of the audit as of Monday. The department did not immediately respond to a Public Information Act request filed by The Capital following Box’s plea Monday afternoon.

A department spokesman had told the newspaper the department would deny any requests for a copy of the audit prior to the conclusion of the case, citing its inclusion in the case’s proceedings.

The plea from Box, along with her admittance that she stole more thousands of drugs from the department over more than two years, was a stark contrast from her initial statements following her arrest last year.

She told The Capital the day after her arrest that she had picked up the medications “many, many times” and that the drugs found in her car were the result of her merely forgetting to take them to the crime lab.

As Vasty Jones read off a statement of facts that outlined how Box had used her position to steal the drugs, she sat at the table with her head down.

Circuit Court Judge Michele Jaklitsch ordered for Box to undergo a psychological evaluation prior to her sentencing in February.

Box had been with the department since 2004 and a supervisor since 2012. Before she was suspended, county records show she made nearly $90,000 a year as of August 2015.

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