By GARY POPP
A Clark County Sheriff’s Department corrections officer has been charged with stealing prescription medication from the purse of a woman passing through the Clark County Courthouse security checkpoint this week.
Dennis R. Caraway, 50, of 3704 Seilo Ridge North in Jeffersonville, was questioned Wednesday by a sheriff’s deputy after a woman made the claim that prescribed medication had been taken out of her purse. He was later charged in Clark County Circuit Court No. 2 with possession of a controlled substance and theft, both class D felonies.
“I was surprised,” said Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden of hearing of the ordeal. “He had been a good employee for the sheriff’s office.”
Caraway initially denied stealing the pills, oxycodone/acetaminophen, but later admitted to the crime, according to a probable-cause affidavit.
Caraway regularly worked the checkpoint, where he and other corrections officers operate a metal detector and routinely examine purses and other bags as people enter the building. The woman, whose medication is believed to have been stolen, reported to a sheriff’s deputy that as she passed through the checkpoint, she talked with one corrections officer as Caraway went through her purse.
“[The woman] advised that it seemed like Caraway was going through her purse a long time for what little she had inside of it,” according the affidavit.
She told the deputy that shortly after she walked away from the checkpoint, she noticed her pill bottle was open and pills were loose in her purse. After collecting the pills, it appeared about half of the pills were missing, the woman reported. The prescription she was carrying had been filled earlier in the day, the woman told the deputy.
The deputy then checked the pill bottle and the woman’s purse. He found additional loose pills in the bag, and counted 55 pills. The woman said she had taken two of the pills since receiving the prescription. The bottle had a quantity of 90 pills showing on its label, the deputy reported.
The deputy asked the woman if there was any place, other than the security area, where she may have lost the 33 pills. She said there was no other place the pills could have been misplaced.
The deputy then went to speak with Caraway and took him to an interview room of the sheriff’s department where he was read his rights.
Caraway explained that the security point’s X-ray machine was down, and corrections officers had been going through people’s belongings as they entered the courthouse.
“Caraway advised that he had accidentally knocked the lid off of [the woman’s] prescription bottle and mentioned it to her,” according to the affidavit. “Caraway advised that he did not take any of the pills.”
Caraway was then asked if he would remove the articles from his pockets. As he emptied his pockets, a pill dropped to the ground, according to the affidavit.
He told the deputy the pill was Tylenol.
The deputy saw the pill was stamped with Watson 933 — the same stamp on the pills in the woman’s prescription bottle. Caraway then said the pill had fallen out of the woman’s purse and that he picked it up after she walked away.
“I advised Caraway that I was not believing him,” the officer noted in the affidavit. “Caraway denied a few more times he took any of [the woman’s] pills and was not thinking when he put the pill in his pocket.”
After further discussion, Caraway told the deputy that additional pills, from the woman’s purse, were in the courthouse’s security desk.
“Caraway advised that when he spilled the pills, he did not want [the woman] to think he was trying to steal them, so he grabbed what had fallen out and put them into the security desk,” according to the affidavit.
The deputy then went to the security desk and found a flaxseed oil bottle containing 29 pills stamped with Watson 933.
“I then brought the bottle back to the interview room and showed Caraway,” the deputy put into the report. “At that time, Caraway advised that he did take the pills due to not being able to deal with his back pain anymore.”
Rodden said Caraway was released after he was questioned by the deputy and the case was handed over to the Office of the Clark County Prosecutor. A warrant was issued for Caraway’s arrest, Rodden said, and Caraway turned himself into the sheriff’s department Thursday.
Rodden said after Caraway was booked into the Michael L. Becher Adult Correctional Complex, he was released on his own recognizance for his own safety, as he is a former corrections officer.
“He had more problems than we knew about,” Rodden said of Caraway.
Caraway has been fired, and Rodden said he will not have the opportunity to return as an employee.
“We can’t have that type of behavior at the sheriff’s office,” Rodden said. “I hope he gets himself together and gets back on track.”
If found guilty of both D felony charges, Caraway could be sentenced from one to six years in prison.
Online court records had not been updated as of press time with Caraway’s next court appearance.