A 30-year-old woman addicted to pain medication will serve 45 days for amassing thousands of pills by shopping around to almost three dozen doctors over an 11-month period.
Kristina Mae Ellingsworth also pocketed narcotics while on the job as a personal care attendant at a Richland assisted living facility.
Ellingsworth was told Thursday that she can do the time on jail work crew or work release. She was convicted in Benton County Superior Court on two separate cases, one for obtaining a controlled substance through fraud and the other for unlawfully obtaining a legend, or prescription, drug.
According to court documents, a pharmacist first alerted police to the Tri-City woman's actions, reporting that Ellingsworth had been getting large amounts of pain medication at his pharmacy and at others.
A police investigation found that between January and November 2008, Ellingsworth had seen at least 35 different doctors, and been prescribed 1,500 tablets of hydrocodone and oxycodone, and 3,300 tablets of tramadol, documents said.
The prescriptions were filled at 13 pharmacies in Benton County, and at least once in Spokane. Police and prosecutors believe there might have been other pharmacies involved in surrounding counties.
Ellingsworth, in an interview with Richland detectives, "admitted that she was addicted to pain medication," court documents said.
She started working at Guardian Angel Homes on May 23, 2008, seeing to the personal care of elderly residents. In the first two weeks of her employment, there were "multiple incidents where narcotics were missing from the locked medicine cart," documents said.
Ellingsworth had been on duty with access to the cart during each incident. As a result of the alleged theft, officials revised the procedure for auditing the medication carts.
She arrived for her shift at 2 p.m. June 4, 2008, and completed an audit, verifying that the medication cart included 29 hydrocodone pills, court documents said. But seven hours later when Ellingsworth had to contact the on-site nursing supervisor because she couldn't find a pill, she had to admit that the cart's overall count wasn't correct, with 29 hydrocodone pills missing, documents said.
The pain medication could not be accounted for and Ellingsworth reportedly was the only personal care attendant in her residential house that shift with keys to the locked cart.
Ellingsworth had a prior conviction for obtaining a controlled substance through fraud.