Burglar, ex-substitute teacher fined for stealing elderly cancer patient's meds

Cary Ashby • Nov 23, 2012 at 11:45 PM

A drug addict and former substitute teacher was fined $5,000 for taking advantage of an elderly cancer patient's friendship by stealing her morphine patches and Vicodin.

Initially, Roger L. Blair, 57, of 11 N. Kniffin St., Greenwich, denied taking the medications. Village police said the defendant blamed it on an unidentified person in the area who recently had been released from prison before he confessed.

Blair, at his sentencing hearing Wednesday, apologized to the 71-year-old female victim for invading her "personal space" and taking advantage of their friendship. The woman wasn't in the courtroom. Blair also said he was "very, very sorry" for the embarrassment he's caused his family.

The only good thing that came out of this situation, Blair said, was it made him realize he has a drug addiction. However, moments later, he told Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway he hasn't been evaluated by a substance abuse counselor and hasn't been looking for a new job.

"(Blair) has been a spectacular resident until this," defense attorney Neil McKown said.

"He fell into an addiction," McKown said. "He is stand-up about his addiction. He admits to his addiction. If it weren't for the addiction, we wouldn't be here."

On Oct. 4, Blair pleaded guilty to burglary. He earlier confessed to the July 8 crime during an interview with Greenwich Police Officer Aaron Smith after the officer showed Blair the surveillance video from a new system, which the victim's daughter installed.

The footage shows Blair walking inside, opening a bottle of pills, dumping some in his hand and leaving the residence, police said.

Blair, in his confession, wrote that he's "in pain about every day of my life" and ran out of his medication.

The victim's daughter contacted Smith via Facebook on May 31. She reported someone had been using a hidden key, walking into her parents' house on a weekly basis and stealing medication, police said.

Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler recommended the court sentence Blair to four months in the Huron County Jail and a $5,000 fine.

"Violating the private space of a homeowner while they're down is pretty despicable," Leffler said.

While Conway said the prosecutor's recommendation "isn't out of the realm of possibility," he said the victim indicated in a statement she doesn't think imprisonment would help Blair.

McKown, the defense attorney, said he didn't think jail or prison time would be beneficial.

"Roger has punished himself more than enough," McKown said.

Blair was fined $5,000 and must pay $350 in restitution for the security system as part of his three years of basic probation. Conway didn't impose any jail time. If Blair violates the terms of his probation, he faces one year in prison.

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