Halifax police officer investigated over sleeping pill prescriptions

2 Halifax police employees charged in police cell death

A Halifax Regional Police officer is under investigation for allegedly getting prescriptions for more than 900 sleeping pills from 12 different doctors two years ago.

Investigators have seized Const. Rebecca Jean Jones's medical records from her visits to two doctor's offices in Wolfville and Halifax on May 4, 2015, and June 28, 2015. Billing was submitted to MSI for both visits.

Police spokeswoman Const. Dianne Penfound said Tuesday that Jones, a 10-year veteran, is on paid leave from the force. 

However, a second police spokesperson contacted CBC later Tuesday to say that information was incorrect.

"I cannot elaborate as this is a personnel matter," said Theresa Rath Spicer via email. "All we are able to confirm is that the employee is on a leave. We will not confirm if is paid or unpaid." 

Rath Spicer also clarified that the leave is not connected to the investigation into the prescriptions.

No suspicion of criminal wrongdoing

Penfound said Tuesday she wasn't aware of any criminal investigation involving Jones and Rath confirmed there was none. 

"We conducted an investigation into this matter to determine if there was any criminal wrongdoing and determined there was not," said Rath Spicer in the email. "At this time, it remains an ongoing internal investigation, which we cannot discuss further."

Search warrant documents obtained by CBC News allege that Jones, 38, acquired 928 tablets of Zopiclone from February 2015 to September 2015. She had visited 12 different doctors.

"If the maximum is taken according to the directions on each prescription that was filled the number of pills obtained should have been enough to last 374 days," Sgt. Jamie Payne wrote in the application to obtain the search warrant.

"That does not include the four visits that did not have a prescription show up in the Department of Health and Wellness Drug Information System."

None of the allegations set out in the documents have been tested in court.

Police allege that Jones engaged in discreditable conduct that's likely to damage the police force's reputation under the Police Act.

Prescription triggered an alert

The court documents say that when Jones went to a Halifax pharmacy on Sept. 23, 2015, to have a prescription for Zopiclone filled a pharmacy technician told the pharmacist that Jones's prescription triggered an alert in Nova Scotia's drug information system.

The technician contacted the doctor who prescribed the drug to discuss the duplicate prescriptions and that doctor cancelled the prescription for about 180 pills.

That doctor works in the same medical practice as Dr. Howard Conter, who serves as a doctor for both Halifax Regional Police and is Jones's personal physician.

When Conter was told Jones was attempting to get prescriptions filled for the same medication from different doctors he contacted the police department's human resources. That information was then passed on to the force's professional standards division and an investigation was launched.