Authorities charge Cape woman in theft of pain medication

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A woman arrested Saturday for stealing painkillers from an elderly Cape Girardeau woman was out of jail awaiting sentencing on almost identical charges.

Cynthia L. Koerner, 23, of 1543 Grandview Drive, was freed on bond Sunday after being charged with a single count of felony stealing. It was her third arrest since August, police spokesman Jason Selzer said, and detectives believe there may be other victims who haven't reported drug thefts.

Koerner pleaded guilty to felony theft charges in the previous two cases and will be sentenced Monday. She will also face a probation revocation hearing the same day for a 2003 stealing conviction. She was out on bond awaiting the sentencing hearing.

"We have seven instances where we have taken reports" about similar medication thefts, Selzer said. "The detectives seem to think there are similar cases dating back to July of this year, including things where the victims may not know about it."

In the most recent case, Koerner is accused of entering a home uninvited on Dec. 5. When confronted by a relative of the victim, she said she came in to get water for her car radiator. She then asked to use the bathroom.

Scams to get inside homes

"She was going around mainly to elderly people's homes and using several different scams to get inside," Selzer said. "She would use the restroom, then steal prescription drugs."

Similar stories were told by victims in robberies in August and September. Koerner allegedly got into one Cape Girardeau home by posing as a student taking a survey. Koerner stole 55 Darvocet tablets from a pill bottle beside the kitchen sink while the home's resident was out of the room, according to a sworn statement filed by police Cpl. Don Perry.

In September, the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department received a report that a purse had been stolen from another victim's home. The owner of the purse said Koerner had sought a refill of the victim's Fiorinal prescription at Broadway Prescription Shop, but was denied.

Koerner then went to the victim's home and took the purse, but was confronted by a neighbor as she left, according to a sworn statement filed by deputy Eric Friederich.

After the confrontation, Koerner pleaded with the victim not to call the authorities. But upon learning that it was Koerner's second visit to her home that day, the victim called the sheriff's office.

Koerner was arrested Sept. 6 at the probation and parole office.

She claimed at the time that she was addicted to painkillers, Friederich wrote, and learned the victim was receiving Fiorinal while Koerner worked at Auburn Creek Nursing Home.

Koerner pleaded guilty Nov. 7 to three felony counts stemming from those two crimes. She faces up to seven years in prison on each of the three felony counts. On the stealing charge from 2003, she faces four years in prison if her probation is revoked.

Koerner will be arraigned Dec. 29 on the latest charge. She was initially scheduled to be arraigned Monday, but asked the court for a delay because she was pregnant and was entering a hospital on her doctor's advice.

Judge Gary Kamp ordered that she provide proof of her medical condition on Dec. 29.

"It is frustrating when someone is out on bond who continues to commit crimes," Selzer said.

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