David Grieder, The Triplicate

Felony charges have been issued against Hollie Maready, 40, who is under investigation of using her position in the Crescent City post office to steal prescription pain medications from clients and coworkers.

Maready faces arraignment Wednesday afternoon for three counts of first degree felony burglary. One of those charges is considered a violent felony since it pertains to an incident in which a non-accomplice party was present.

Maready's husband said she entered a rehabilitation facility in early September soon after investigators searched her home and vehicle.

District Attorney Dale Trigg said additional charges might be added or others dropped during the adjudication process.

For years, veterans living in Del Norte County said their shipments of pain pills were being delivered by the post office but pills were missing. The complaints were numerous and persistent enough to provoke an extended multi-agency investigation from local, area, and federal officers, but with no results.

That progress took a turn this summer when an investigator with the Del Norte County Sheriff Office opened an unrelated burglary investigation involving employees and a client of the Crescent City post office. Additional common details between the burglaries and painkiller thefts soon emerged, including the type of items being stolen and the timing of the crimes.

According to court documents, victims in the burglary investigation said Maready entered their homes on various occasions between mid-May and mid-August under suspicious circumstances. They noted the disappearance of controlled narcotic medications such as Oxycodone or Norco 10-325 following her visits.

Del Norte County Sheriff's Cmdr. Bill Steven said the reported instances of painkiller theft from homes coincided with an increasing number of clients either cancelling or rerouting their pill shipments from the Department of Veteran's Affairs.

According to the investigation narrative presented by Sgt. Richard Griffin, the burglaries and the package thefts suggested they were committed by a person with knowledge and authority specific to a trusted employee of the post office.

According to the California Penal Code, Maready's charges are punishable by two, four, or six years in prison.

In a complaint filed Dec. 15, Trigg proposed Maready will be ineligible for probation since one of her charges involved burglary of a person aged 60 years or older.

Maready's defense attorney Robert Forkner said his client will enter a plea of not guilty. He said the adjudication process will entail additional investigation and witness interviews.

Trigg confirmed Maready's charges are still in direct relation to the years-long investigation of mail theft, which remains open.

"Right now that's what I felt comfortable charging," Trigg said.

Reach David Grieder at dgrieder@triplicate.com