SENTENCED: Two years probation for former Sheriff's Lt. accused of stealing pills from sick grandmother
WAUKESHA CO. (WITI) -- Former Waukesha County Sheriff's Lieutenant Sarah Massa was sentenced on Monday, September 29th -- accused of stealing prescription medication from her sick grandmother.
It was an emotional afternoon in Waukesha County, as Massa admitted she had an addiction to opiates after being prescribed drugs for past injuries. Although she has been in an intense outpatient program, the judge decided she needs treatment of a different fashion.
Seemingly remorseful, Massa entered the courtroom Monday anxious to hear her fate.
A criminal complaint against Massa says Department of Justice (DOJ) Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) officials were requested by Waukesha County to conduct an investigation related to missing Percocet pills that had been taken from a residence on Pewaukee Road. The DOJ was called to investigate the case due to the fact that Massa was a Waukesha County Sheriff’s Lieutenant.
The complaint says officials met with a doctor who was treating Massa’s grandmother, who was in the end stages of terminal cancer. That doctor reported that he prescribed 120 Percocet pills to Massa’s grandmother every 30 days to help manage severe pain she was experiencing as a result of her cancer.
The complaint says on July 6, 2013, the doctor was advised by Massa’s aunt that she and Massa’s grandfather had noticed approximately 60 pills missing.
In September 2013, Massa’s aunt reported an additional 58 pills missing — and they needed a refill. A doctor would not provide a refill unless police were contacted — according to the complaint.
Officials spoke with Massa’s grandfather, who reported the only two people who provide pain pills to Massa’s grandmother are himself and a hospice nurse who comes by several days a week.
The complaint says Massa’s grandfather reported the family had hosted a Fourth of July party — and it was after that that he noticed approximately 60 pills were missing. The man told officials he had noticed Massa going inside the home while the others were outside during the Fourth of July party — something that now struck him as suspicious.
The complaint says Massa’s grandfather began to suspect Massa may be responsible for the thefts because she had been at the residence during the times when the pills went missing. Massa’s grandfather told officials she is a “good kid,” but said something was going on — saying he knew she was in pain due to a back problem, according to the complaint.
Massa’s grandfather also told officials he believed it was suspicious that after the pills went missing, Massa wouldn’t show up at the house again for several days, according to the complaint.
The complaint indicates that after the second theft incident involving the Percocet pills, Massa’s grandfather moved the pills from the kitchen into a locked safe in the bedroom.
The complaint says in October 2013, a covert camera was placed in the bedroom where the pills were kept.
In November 2013, officials placed 96 placebo pills similar in appearance to the Percocet pills in an empty Percocet prescription bottle. The complaint indicates four days later, six of the pills were reported missing.
Officials downloaded video from the camera placed in the bedroom, and according to the complaint, an individual was seen reached into the bedroom and taking the placebo bottle from the nightstand — before returning the bottle to the nightstand.
The complaint says Massa’s grandparents identified the individual in the video as Massa.
According to the complaint, Massa was wearing a police uniform, and could be seen to have a gun in a holster.
Officials spoke with Massa, who said she initially thought her aunt was involved in taking the pills, because her grandmother’s pain levels were off and there were occasions where her grandmother was in more pain than usual. Massa told officials she had observed pain pills in her aunt’s purse. Massa said she had conversations with her aunt about the pills — but said her aunt did not want to report the missing pills, according to the complaint.
Massa told officials she noticed the pills were out in the bedroom — and said she took the pill bottle to the bathroom. Massa admitted to taking six pills out of the pill bottle — and said she noticed the markings were different on these pills, so she went to Google and determined they were not real Percocet pills, according to the complaint.
The complaint says Massa told officials she believed her aunt was replacing her grandmother’s prescription pills with some other pills — saying that she took the six pills because she wanted to make sure they were genuine. Massa told officials when she learned they were acetaminophen, she took all six at once, according to the complaint.
The complaint says Massa told officials she spoke with her aunt, and learned a camera had been placed in the bedroom — and learned the pill bottle didn’t have the real medication in it.
Officials spoke with Massa on a separate date — when she contacted them, saying she had recorded a conversation between herself and her aunt — in which she said her aunt admitted to taking pills from her grandmother, according to the complaint. The complaint says in the conversation, Massa’s aunt admitted that Massa’s grandfather would let her have a Percocet pill “when Mom was on her three pills a day — but she could take four if she needed to. If there was an extra one and I was hurting really bad, Dad would let me have the extra one. That happened like two times.” This, according to the criminal complaint.
The complaint says the aunt told Massa there was never an occasion when Massa’s grandmother’s pills were in her purse.
The complaint says Massa’s grandfather said he had given the aunt one pill one time, because she had to wait a day to fill her own prescription. Massa’s grandfather told officials Massa came to his residence in November of 2013 and said that “she had made a mistake, and had taken the pills.” He believed that to be in reference to the pills taken in July and September — as well as the pills taken in November, though he says Massa never specified, according to the complaint.
Massa was charged with theft of movable property less than $2,500, and resisting or obstructing an officer -- both misdemeanor charges. Massa resigned her position with the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department. She was given the choice to resign and keep her pension or be fired.
"I'm sorry to be in front of you in this position. I'm so sorry that things got so out of control," Massa said during her sentencing hearing on Monday, September 29th.
Massa's attorney asked for leniency -- citing that Massa and her husband, Chris -- a former Waukesha police officer who resigned under suspicion of sexting while on duty, planned to start a new life in Florida.
"Asking that you allow her to pay a fine only, because the contract does not allow her to move from interstate compact," Massa's attorney said.
The District Attorney recommended probation for Massa.
"The fact that there are three children relying on Ms. Massa, I belive that probation is warranted is this case and supervision over treatment and monitoring of her drug intake is in the long-term best interest of her and her family," the District Attorney said.
The judge had a different punishment in mind for Massa.
"A total of nine months in jail. I'll stay that and place you on probation for two years - have you serve time in County Jail as a condition of probation, which will require you to serve 30 days in County Jail as a condition of probation. I'll let that be with Huber release," the judge said.
The conditions of probation require that Massa maintain absolute sobriety and perform community service.