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An Orchard Park doctor was arrested and his hospital privileges suspended in connection with the theft of painkilling drugs from Lake Shore Hospital, Chautauqua County sheriff's deputies said Tuesday.

Augustine Velez, 48, of Freeman Road was charged Tuesday with petit larceny and criminal facilitation, stemming from the theft of 32 prefilled syringes of demerol and morphine. He is to appear in Hanover Town Court at a later date.

Deputies said hospital officials contacted them Aug. 19 and reported that the drugs were taken from a locked cabinet in the hospital's recovery room, which also was locked.

It was believed the theft occurred at about 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 19, deputies were told. Investigators subsequently obtained a statement from Velez in which he acknowledged his role in the theft, deputies said.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration also was contacted, deputies said, and federal charges may be lodged. Deputy Chuck Ortolano and Sgt. Peter Pett handled the investigation for the Sheriff's Department.

Lake Shore Hospital has suspended the doctor's medical and surgical privilege pending the completion of the investigation.

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