A Billings man with a drug addiction admitted on Tuesday that he broke into Walgreens and stole prescription painkillers that he intended to use to pay a drug debt.
Travis John Bell, 22, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Billings to possession with intent to distribute oxycodone during a hearing before District Judge Susan Watters.
Bell told the judge he had been treated for prescription drug addiction when he was 16 and was again in treatment when he got arrested on Jan. 17 as he left Walgreens at 3333 Grand Ave.
Bell’s burglary of the drug store and pharmacy at about 6 a.m. was monitored live by a security company, which called police. Officers surrounded the building and arrested Bell without incident when left the building, court records said.
Bell had a hammer, screwdriver and plastic pill bottles. Officers also found a plastic bag that Bell had placed by a back door. The bag contained various painkillers and other drugs. Bell had more than 3,000 pills, including oxycodone.
Bell told investigators later he owed his drug dealer about $1,200, broke into the pharmacy and took anything he could sell. He thought he could give the pills to his dealer to pay off the debt, court records said.
A plea agreement calls for a burglary count to be dismissed at sentencing if the judge accepts the deal. Bell faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a possible $1 million fine.
Watters set sentencing for Aug. 13. Bells remains in custody.