manuel_gerardo_pacheco.jpgMIAMI (AP) _ An investigation into the theft of prescription drugs at a University of Miami cancer center has found that the total loss topped $14 million over a three-year period.


The Miami Herald reported Tuesday ( ) the thefts went undetected until a pharmacy buyer at the university's Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center noticed unusual amounts of missing drugs in May 2011. That eventually led to the arrest of a pharmacy technician, 55-year-old Manuel Gerardo Pacheco, on grand theft and other charges.

Pacheco has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial. His attorney, David S. Markus, said authorities are making Pacheco into a scapegoat for the entire $14 million even though other employees had easy access to the expensive cancer drugs.

The university's school of medicine said in a statement that its past controls failed to detect the thefts at the center, including one medication that costs $2,600 per dose.

The school now says security has been tightened and reimbursement is being sought from Pacheco and from the school's insurance carrier.

Evidence against Pacheco includes video surveillance allegedly showing him pocketing boxes of medicine. A search of Pacheco's refrigerator at his home uncovered drugs valued at more than $734,000, according to investigators.

A status hearing in Pacheco's case is set for Sept. 13.