UPDATE: Pharmacist gets just over two years in jail

Rosie
Rosie Gillingham
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Case unexpectedly dealt with today

Pharmacist Ann Marie Burke is led out of provincial court in St. John’s Wednesday. She’s due back in court today. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

St. John’s pharmacist Ann Marie Burke was sentenced to more than two years in prison today on drug trafficking charges and for breaching court orders. 

Last week Burke pleaded guilty to the drug-traffickiing charges and was to be sentenced next month. However, she was charged this week with four counts of breaching court orders and was taken into custody.

Today, in what was expected to be a brief court appearance for a status update on the case, turned into a sentencing hearing after Burke pleaded guilty to two breach of court order charges. The Crown withdrew the remaining two.

The pharmacist was sentenced to two years plus a day on the drug trafficking-related charges, and 39 days consecutive on the two court order breaches.

She also received 26 days credit for time served leaving two years and four days of the sentence to serve.

Burke’s lawyer, Jon Noonan, told the court Burke has a history of alcoholism that she has battled all of her life, and became addicted to pain killers following a car accident.

"She's remorseful, embarassed and humiliated," Noonon told the court. "This has affected her relationship with her family and she's lost her career. She's accepted responsibility for what she's done."

•••

(Earlier story)

A St. John’s pharmacist who pleaded guilty last week to drug trafficking charges is back behind bars. Ann Marie Burke returned to provincial court Wednesday afternoon.

She was arrested Tuesday at a bar in a downtown hotel.

The 55-year-old has been charged with four counts of breaching court orders — two for failing to keep the peace and be of good behaviour and one each for being in an establishment that sells alcohol and failing to notify police of a change in address. She was reportedly supposed to be living in Brigus with a family member.

Burke had been sent for a psychiatric assessment Tuesday. On Wednesday, Judge Joseph Woodrow indicated that Burke was deemed mentally fit to stand trial.

Burke’s lawyer, Jon Noonan, and Crown prosecutor John Brooks agreed to set the case over until today. Noonan has made no decision on whether there will be a bail hearing at that time.

Last week in provincial court, Burke pleaded guilty to five charges, which were laid earlier this year when police reportedly discovered she had been dealing illegal drugs.

Those charges include one count of illegal possession of oxycodone; one count of illegal possession of morphine; one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking in methadone; one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking in Ritalin; and one count of possession of marijuana.

Burke, who was a pharmacist at Downtown Pharmacy on Water Street, has a sentencing hearing set for Nov. 21-22.

She was first taken into custody Jan. 19, with much media attention, after RNC officers raided her apartment on LeMarchant Road and reportedly found more than 1,200 prescription narcotics, along with 30 grams of marijuana.

Also seized was $2,100 in cash, weapons — bear spray and a stun gun — and three laptop computers.

Burke was released from custody on several conditions on Feb. 10.

In January, she was suspended by the pharmacy board.

 

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelyCourt

Geographic location: Brigus, Ritalin, Water Street LeMarchant Road

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  • Donna
    October 13, 2011 - 19:14

    Sure, she should be paraded around in handcuffs. She was a person people trusted. Addicts were going to her for a high not for help and the government was paying for it because most of those people were on social services. She should have got alot more than 2 years.

  • there but for the grace of god
    October 13, 2011 - 16:39

    The alcohol and drug problem in this province is escallating out of controll. There doesn't seem to be any way to educate the young or the old for that matter on the dangers of addiction. There have been doctors , nurses ,and hundreds of others that have become addicted and have hit rock bottom. Hopefully Anne Marie can overcome her addictions , get clean and maybe help others to do the same.

  • Tree Walsh
    October 13, 2011 - 14:42

    Ms. Burke is first and foremost a human being. Just like you and me, and like us she has made mistakes in life. No excuses. Who hasn't made the WRONG choice at some point in life. We all have to accept the results of our choices, like it or lump it. For people with addictions NL missed the boat a LONG TIME AGO. People are SCREAMING for help and the Department of Health & Community Services RESEARCHES. While people die, get HIV or Hep C, have mental and family breakdown... The cost of such inaction is WAY BEYOND $$$$$$. I hope Ms. Burke gets some REAL help soon...But I'm not going to hold my breath!

  • Karen
    October 13, 2011 - 14:09

    Ken Jones..........you are my hero. But I'm sure that you already knew that.

  • Herb Morrison
    October 13, 2011 - 13:42

    While it is disturbing when a person such as Ann Marie Burke, who is in a position of trust, violates that trust thereby possibly placing every pharmacist under public scrutiny, what is equally disturbing is the fact that when such a person is brought to justice within the legal system, the same person is treated so unjusticely by every self-righteous, self-appointed guardian of public morality who chooses to crawl out of the woodwork . Such individuals appear to take feindish delight in "kicking someone when like Ann Marie Burke when she is down. Such moral depravity poses a far greeater threat to the ethical fabric of the society in which we live than any person addicted to alcohol or drugs ever will. Ms Burke has recieved a stiff sentence indeed. Her career as a pharmacist is over, she is allegedly addicted to both alcohol and drugs, and she will be incarcarated in a prison where she may or may not be able to access help for her addictions. Then there's the social stigma which has already been attached to her in spades, if some of the comments related to this story are any indication, she will be unfairly required to deal with , perhaps for the rest of her life. Anne= Marie Burke appears to have hit rock bottom. It can be legitemately argued that she is either the mistress of her own plight or that she is the victim of cruel circumstances thrust upon her as she liveed her life. Either way Ann Marie is more to be pitied than anything else. The same cannot be said of those who choose to gleefully, voluntarily, sink into the mud. Choosing to play the role of jude, jury, and executioner ( actully muckrakers might be a more appropriate term), in order to satiate their over - inflated, self-righteous egos even if it means kicking someone who is down. Who has committed the greater injustice?

  • Mary
    October 13, 2011 - 12:53

    WOW, some serious accusations in one comment, I'm surprised The Telegram published this one.

    • Ken Jones
      October 13, 2011 - 14:12

      Mary , I don't know if you were referring to my post , I never made alot of accusations , Anne MArie Burke had been proven guilty and the other two pharmacists I mentioned , I never said they were guilty , I said they were accused , I never made any "accusations" I merely stated that there alot of pharmacist out there with drinking problems , no more than any other profession (which I should have said) but it is an extremely stressful job (ask any pharmacist) and I know some pharmacist in chronic pain but they make a choice to take their pian medication from a doctor and they take them as prescribed , I see nothing wrong with my post , I have accused nobody of anything , I simply stated that there is a choice to be made everyday and 99 % of the phramacist I know are honest and VERY hard working , but she was found guilty , couldn't even keep her bail conditions.I see nothing wrong with my post if in fact that is the one you were referring to , what bothers me is that she' has dirtied the name of a profession i loved for 23 years before I had to stop for medical reasons and she had sullied the name of a lot of great people in that profession , who work 2 12 hour shifts every second weekend and work like dogs during the week , that's what hurts me the most , and Anne Marie , if you read this , I really hope you get the help you need , I have no idea how a bright girl like yourself got into this mess but I sincerely hope you get the help you desperatley need

    • Ken Jones
      October 13, 2011 - 14:22

      Mary , I don't know if you were referring to my post , I never made alot of accusations , Anne MArie Burke had been proven guilty and the other two pharmacists I mentioned , I never said they were guilty , I said they were accused , I never made any "accusations" I merely stated that there alot of pharmacist out there with drinking problems , no more than any other profession (which I should have said) but it is an extremely stressful job (ask any pharmacist) and I know some pharmacist in chronic pain but they make a choice to take their pian medication from a doctor and they take them as prescribed , I see nothing wrong with my post , I have accused nobody of anything , I simply stated that there is a choice to be made everyday and 99 % of the phramacist I know are honest and VERY hard working , but she was found guilty , couldn't even keep her bail conditions.I see nothing wrong with my post if in fact that is the one you were referring to , what bothers me is that she' has dirtied the name of a profession i loved for 23 years before I had to stop for medical reasons and she had sullied the name of a lot of great people in that profession , who work 2 12 hour shifts every second weekend and work like dogs during the week , that's what hurts me the most , and Anne Marie , if you read this , I really hope you get the help you need , I have no idea how a bright girl like yourself got into this mess but I sincerely hope you get the help you desperatley need

  • wayne
    October 13, 2011 - 12:45

    Yes it's good to have the Downtown Pharmacy "taken care of'" but there must be alternates available as well. There are lots of addicts who are really hard cases , but there are others who were drawn in during their early teens and are now trying to clean up their lives. There is a huge wait list for addiction services and very few clinics and doctors. Once an addict is hooked , no amount of jail or punsihment will help them. We could save a fortune in policing , and assorted crimes from robbery to assault by putting more into prevention and treatment. Try telling an oxy addict with a $300 a day habit that there is a 12 month waiting list for help. They MUST have that $300 a day and will do ANYTHING to get it.

  • Ken Jones
    October 13, 2011 - 11:34

    Yeah , Tula , she should be paraded around in handcuffs , she is a criminal.I knew Anne Mare Burke and have for years.I am a retired pharmacist .She was a nice enough person , good conversationalist and a nice enough person.But she had a choice as all 500 of the pharmacists in the province have everyday , do I be honest and do my shift and go home , or do I rip off Te insurance companies with false claims (as two of my other colleagues are accused of doing) or do I steal drugs from the pharmacy and traffick them. Each day every pharmacist has that choice , it would be no trouble for any pharmacist to make off with a few doze n vials of morphine if they wanted , eventually questions would be asked and red flags raised but proving it is a different matter. Boo Hoo , she had a drinking problem and had to take pain killers that she got hooked on , Well I went through 2 cancer operations and have had pain alot worse than hers and I have never taken a drug from any pharmacy I worked in , in my life except for a tylenol if I had a headache.she had the same chances as anyone else....dom you think she's not the only pharmacist with a drinking problem or chronic pain , hardly, but she had choices and she made the wrong one , so yeah she got what she deserved , she sullied the name of all good pharmacists in this province and she should do the perp walk in cuffs like any other criminal

  • Shane
    October 13, 2011 - 11:33

    Hey Anne-Marie, Sucks that you'll be locked up for Christmas but on the bright side, we'll see you again come Valentine's day. Just a sad story all around.

  • Dave
    October 13, 2011 - 10:13

    Maybe additictions wouldn't be on the rise and Newfoundland wouldn't have to be wasting resources on it if people such as Ms. Burke were not feeding (and in fact) creating those addictions. Anyone involved in the drug crisis should be paraded in public at every opportunity. The slack sentences do not seem to have any impact on them, maybe public scrutiny will.

  • tula
    October 13, 2011 - 07:02

    Once again this person must be peraded in public doning handcuffs. I dont think anyone really cares about the fact that she broke her bail conditions and is facing new charges. Is there anything else of interest for example the fact the addiction is on the rise and services are not readily available because Newfoundland does not have the resources ! Now that is a hot topic. THE END

    • Tally
      October 13, 2011 - 10:37

      Downtown pharmacy has been on the public radar for years, so it is good to hear that police have finally stepped in to clean that place up. There have been stories of patients selling their methadone while in lineup down there, of iv drug use going on in the bathroom, and of fights between patients while waiting in line for methadone, as well as of workers at this phamacy giving loans to patients. Its good to see this is being taken care of!!