Charged pharmacist taken to hospital

Published on January 20, 2011

The St. John’s pharmacist who made headlines after she was arrested and charged with trafficking in prescription drugs was supposed to be back in court Wednesday.

Instead, she was taken to hospital.

Ann Marie Burke had reportedly been complaining of back pain while being held at the St. John’s Lockup.

She was brought to hospital Wednesday afternoon, not long before she was scheduled to appear in provincial court.

When the case was called, duty counsel Jonathan Noonan told Judge Colin Flynn that Burke should be able to make it to court today.

The 54-year-old was taken into custody late Tuesday morning after RNC officers raided her apartment on LeMarchant Road and found more than 1,000 pills — including oxycodone, codeine, morphine, methadone and Ritalin — along with $2,100 in cash.

Burke — a pharmacist at Downtown Pharmacy on Water Street — was arrested, along with 31-year-old Christopher Robert Hollett, who was at Burke’s apartment.

When Burke and Hollett were first brought to court Tuesday afternoon, they were charged with possessing oxycodone and possessing oxycodone for the purpose of trafficking.

Those charges were replaced Wednesday with more detailed drug information — five counts each of possessing drugs for the purpose of trafficking in oxycodone, codeine, morphine, methadone and Ritalin.

Burke was also charged with possessing 30 grams of marijuana.

Hollett still faces four other charges — possessing prohibited weapons and three counts of breaching a recognizance, which was issued Nov. 12, 2010, and ordered him to keep the peace and be of good behaviour and possess no drugs or weapons.

Hollett, who was back in court Wednesday, had his case postponed until Feb. 8.

Meanwhile, he will also answer to charges relating to a prior case.

Following an alleged road-rage incident in June 2010, he was charged with assault causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon, mischief relating to property damage, possessing a weapon dangerous to the public, dangerous driving and breaching a probation order to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

He had been released on bail on those charges.

Both Burke and Hollett are in custody.

Earlier Wednesday, the RNC held a news conference to display some of the items seized from Burke’s apartment.

Items found in the home included 1,247 prescription narcotics, 453 of which have yet to been identified and further charges could be pending on what those drugs turn out to be.

Also seized were 22 grams of marijuana, two prohibited weapons — a stun gun and bear spray — cash and three laptop computers.

There were also concealing devices, a Coke can and an Axe spray bottle, both were cut open and fitted with Styrofoam inside to keep pill bottles secure.

Burke could also face additional charges of possession of a stolen property, Const. Suzanne FitzGerald said.

“The general investigation unit officers attended the scene at the request of the drug investigative unit after it was determined there was a number of items in that residence that were quite evidently obtained by criminal means,” she said.

Those items are now being analyzed to determine exactly where they were stolen from — those items were personal effects as well as electronics and also power tools, and there is a large quantity of those,” said FitzGerald

A separate investigation will determine if any other additional charges are warranted.

Reporters also questioned FitzGerald on Burke’s appearance as she was led into court on Tuesday, asking why she was dressed in slippers and a robe.

“That individual had multiple opportunities to change into appropriate attire (before leaving her residence) … The investigating officers attempted to assist her in providing clothes ... ,” she said.

“An individual is free to make their own decisions as to how they would like to appear in court and that was her decision.”