A federal judge in Portland on Monday sentenced a fired forensic scientist at the Oregon State Police crime lab in Bend to three years in prison for stealing hundreds of pills from evidence submitted to the lab over two years.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports (https://goo.gl/9JmKhI ) 36-year-old Nika Larsen was sentenced Monday after she pleaded guilty in August to two counts of obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud and deception.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says Larsen used her position to steal methamphetamine, morphine and other drugs while processing and overseeing cases.
Oregon State Police launched an investigation in 2015 after a forensic scientist in the Bend lab found 18 oxycodone pills were missing. Investigators found some pills were missing, partially missing or had been replaced with non-controlled substances — all in cases handled by Larsen.
Larsen's crimes potentially affected more than 2,500 drug cases statewide.
U.S. Department of Justice news release, issued Tuesday:
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown sentenced former Oregon State Police Forensic Scientist Nika Larsen, 36, of Bend, Oregon to 36 months in federal prison for obtaining controlled substances by misrepresentation, fraud and deception. Following her prison sentence, Larsen will be on one year of supervised release that will include 250 hours of community service.
“An effective criminal justice system requires the highest level of personal integrity from everyone working within the system,” said Billy J. Williams, United States Attorney for the District of Oregon. “If is a single link in this chain is compromised, the equitable administration of justice is at risk. Ms. Larsen’s sentence reflects the severity of her crimes, and demonstrates our law enforcement community’s commitment to policing its own and protecting the integrity of the justice system.”
In August, Larsen plead guilty to two counts of obtaining controlled substances by misrepresentation, fraud and abuse by using her position as a state forensic scientist to steal controlled substances from evidence items submitted by law enforcement agencies to the Oregon State Police Crime Lab for analysis and testing.
Between January 2013 and August 2015, Larsen was found to have stolen over 700 controlled substances in pill form from over 50 separate evidence items. The stolen pills included Morphine, Hydrocodone, Diazepam, Methamphetamine (pill form), Oxycodone and Methadone. Larsen’s offenses occurred primarily in Umatilla and Deschutes Counties at the Oregon State Police Crime Labs in Pendleton and Bend.
The case was investigated by the Oregon State Police and the Oregon Department of Justice, Criminal Justice Division. The case was prosecuted by Pamala R. Holsinger, Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, and Special Assistant United States Attorney Stephen H. Gunnels from the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office.
Multnomah County Chief Deputy District Attorney Donald N. Rees served as Special Deputy District Attorney for Umatilla County during the case and also represented the Oregon District Attorney’s Association (ODAA).
Daina Vitolins, President of the ODAA, expressed the gratitude of district attorneys statewide to the United States Attorney for Oregon and to the participating district attorneys’ offices for bring this difficult matter to a just close.