VA Chief Pharmacist

Ex-VA Chief Pharmacist Stole Painkillers From Veterans, Sentenced

Veterans suspicious their pharmacist skimmed off some of their opioid painkillers may have been correct, at least in one VA facility in Pennsylvania from 2017 to 2020.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently circulated a press release about the sad story of Matthew Camera, 51, after his 2-year probation sentence was issued. Court filings apparently show it was confirmed the pharmacist let his opioid addiction get the best of him.

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An unknown number of veterans likely received less than the prescribed number of opioids for more than three years. Camera admitted to skimming a few pills from each prescription he filled.

It appears he worked at the Erie VA Medical Center or its pharmacy depending on where that is located.

Based on our past understanding of opioid use and information available on this matter, it seems possible some veterans affected may have been injured, at least psychically and possibly physically, due to receiving less than the prescribed number of painkillers.

The information from the DOJ and readily available elsewhere online does not address the impact this skimming had on the veterans affected. It does appear that veterans did complain, which led to the investigation.

If these veterans complained to their physician seeking additional pills, it is possible the physician would have labeled them as drug seeking given the prior opioid over-prescription scandal within VA impacting facilities and veterans nationwide less than a decade ago.

If a veteran is improperly labeled drug seeking, it can be difficult to get the record changed and to receive proper medications that may have addictive qualities.

Limited News Coverage

In addition to the DOJ press release, the story coverage from a few other media outlets.

According to The Bellingham Herald, the former chief pharmacist admitted to stealing drugs meant for veterans. Court documents show Camera would “self medicate and feed an addition” to opioids. He would skim a few pills from each bottle he would fill.

According to Yahoo News:

The investigation of Camera started when patients at the Erie VA complained that some of their pills were missing, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They said they were receiving fewer pain pills than the number they had been prescribed.

The government accused Camera of “removing the pills from the pharmacy shelves, surreptitiously taking the pills and removing the pills from the” Erie VA, at 135 E. 38th St., according to the charging document. He took pills from pill bottles awaiting delivery to VA patients, the government and defense said. Camera cooperated as soon as investigators with the VA’s Office of Inspector General confronted him in June 2020, the defense said.

The scheme lasted from January 2017 to June 2020. Camera was accused of stealing 100 hydrocodone and oxycodone pills from those bottles.

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About Those Numbers

Do these numbers from the Herald add up for an opioid addict with open access to opioids at work?

As the story goes, the pharmacist stole a few pills (meaning at least three) from each prescription he would fill. The span of time covered 3 years and 6 months.

The allegation suggests he only stole 100 pills during that time.

Does that sound right to any of you?

Assuming the very well paid pharmacist only took drugs to feed an addition at VA, and assuming he only stole 100 pills, what are your critical thinking skills telling you?

The numbers suggest he only filled around 30 prescriptions in 3.5 years for opioids if he only skimmed 100 pills at three (a few) pills per prescription. Does that seem like a low number of prescriptions filled for opioids at any VA medical center?

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It also means he would have taking only 1 pill every 12 days if the limit was truly 100, but the reports suggest the pharmacist was feeding his addiction with medication intended for veterans.

The numbers don’t seem to add up to me.

Do you think there may be more to the story?

DOJ Press Release

Below is the DOJ press release:

Former VA Pharmacist Sentenced for Stealing Painkillers Meant for Veterans

ERIE, Pa. – A resident of Erie, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced in federal court to 2 years probation on his conviction of violating federal drug laws, United States Attorney Cindy K. Chung announced today.

United States District Judge Susan Paradise Baxter imposed the sentence on Matthew Camera, 51. 

According to information presented to the court, January 2017 to June 2020, while Camera was employed as the Pharmacy Chief at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Erie, he unlawfully obtained multiple dosage units of Hydrocodone and Oxycodone from pill bottles awaiting delivery to Veterans Affairs patients.

Assistant United States Attorney Christian A. Trabold prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

United States Attorney Chung commended the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Camera.


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  1. Execute him, live, on the White House Lawn, broadcast on ALL radio and TV and Internet !

    Give his “supervisors” probation. Give ALL “officials” who were contacted and did nothing hard labour and probation. Use the bastards for cannon fodder!

    Not to mention that ALL Presidents, Commanders In Chief, going back DECADES are guilty of Dereliction Of Duty for not making sure the VA is run properly – and run properly by ACTIVE DUTY veterans who have served at least one full Tour Of Duty. No civilian will EVER understand what we go through, in Service, and afterwards when we are neglected, abused, and basically shit on by our own God Damned Government!

  2. This behaviour is, in my personal experience, quite common. The trouble is, there is very little that can be done about it until someone “important” actually suffers. When a veteran being treated for long-term pain through a systematic Pain Management that includes opioids asserts *ANYTHING* that relates to the number of dose of those narcotic analgesics, the immediate reaction is to accuse the veteran of “trying to get more opioids”; we are all presumed to be junkies and drug abusers, regardless.

    So when I reported missing narcotic analgesics, I was told they are counted out by the pharmacy manager, the only one with the key to the narcotics safe (“opioids safe” as they call it, as if I were going to buy a ball of opium to smoke), and he isn’t going to take three of your pills. Only when I appealed to my Congressperson–who prior to that I had never voted for–did actual movement happen. A man whose beliefs are nothing like mine stood to the line for me. It “discovered” that the pharmacy manager had a disability that prevented him “properly counting large numbers of small objects”, and he gained an assistant.


    Veterans in chronic pain are treated exactly the same as civilians in pain—not vice versa. The VA rule of “50mg MEQ daily” is a blanket policy-based prescription to “manage” any and all pain, as put forward by the DEA to “curb the opioid crisis” (which, for those playing at home, has been an epic and utter failure).

    So, my buddy with back pain from arthritis and degenerative disks, residuals from sitting in a MP truck wearing a heavy utility belt for 20+ years, gets 50mg MEQ. I, with a brachial plexus injury (residuals from GSW to LUE), residuals from two “severe concussions” (nowadays moderate tbi), residuals from three particular wounds out of a slew of splinter wounds (11 or 13, depending on how one counts, in three events), an “acceleration injury” to my knee (blown out of a truck by what was then called a “roadside bomb”), an injury to my foots due to an improvised area-denial device” (an poorly-but-effectively welded tangle of big nails) *and* surviving 4 *courses* of chemotherapy (Stage III Cancer)…get 50mg MEQ daily.

    Who thinks that’s right? In December 2016, before The Big Change, I had been treated with more that that daily dose three times per day (45mg x3/day SR, plus 30x 15mg IR for breakthrough pain as needed), and had been taking that dose for ten years (down from 60mg x3 &c for the previous 10). I bowled on a league and played a set of practice, was active in plays and community events and even saw the odd movie. By March of 2017, I had bee driven down to 30mg x3, and in the new year, to 15mg x3, then after a one year break, down to 15mg x2 per day.

    Any decent physician–and most mediocre ones–will admit that they are basing my pain management on VA-DEA policy, and that if they raised my pain medication, they “would lose [their] license”. They insist that I take drug tests for all manner of illegal drugs, because “my drug use puts me at risk”; never mind the 30 years of negative tests.

    I am treated like a junkie, not because I abuse drugs, but because I did my duty, as I swore I would do. Despite the fact that I stood to lose a great deal more than a medical license or an election, I did what was needed, as the “other” 1% of Americans–those who serve in arms–have done and are doing, and I believe will always do.

    I am glad veterans like M dv, or Angela, &c, are able to manage their pain effectively and to their satisfaction without dependence on narcotic analgesics. Perhaps, some of us are in more systemic and widespread pain, and need treatment that fits our needs, rather than some one else’s. And certainly we don’t need a police officer from the DEA defining the limits of our care, however high-minded the idea they claim motivates them (preventing overdose deaths).

    Here endeth the screed.


  3. Hi Ben,
    Haven’t heard from you for a long time but now your website is being populated into my feed. Glad to hear from you and your followers! As always everyone is keeping me abreast of everything that goes on in the VA, and I am always shocked and awed by the corruption and the VA’s ability to dodge accountability. Unbelievable…

    And the Beat Goes On

  4. Hey Ben,
    Have you looked those stories I sent you?
    Also, I’ve checked the “notify me” of posts and replies and have never been notified – ever! Is there a problem? OR, is your site being watched by “big brother”?
    Project Veritas (James O’Keefe and others) say conservatives and others who speak bad about this administration are being targeted by the FBI and DOJ – and now by their illegal “Ministry of Propaganda”!
    Are you being watched?

    1. It likely just took a few minutes for the server to update. I see the links now. Btw, I updated the website again. Hoping it is a bit faster and easier to read.

  5. Glad to see Windguy and Crazy Elf are still here. Usually by the time Big Ben’s articles show up in my feed the comments are already closed. Hope Rosie is still around. And you are all doing well.

    What is sad about this case is that Camera only received 2 years probation. Still has his Pharmacological license. So they will watch him a bit more closely at whatever pharmacy he works at for a few years. Big deal. Should have gotten 5 years minimum and revocation of his license for life.

    Yes. Healthevet has taken a huge dump nation-wide. Used it for many years with nary a problem. Now, nada! New sign-in does not play well with Linux or Apple OS’s. Who knows how long it will take to get that clusterfuck in working order?

    Things going better in Texas than Hawaii for me – – – but only because I make myself a royal pain in the ass to them when I need something. Never trust the VA.

    1. Where do you go in Hawaii for your VA healthcare? Is it still downtown Honolulu or is it “Crippler” Tripler? When I was there, back in the ’80’s I went to both places! Whenever I had a problem, the head of the clinic was right on the b.s..
      Hope your doing better!

      Look up those videos I sent Ben.
      The newest b.s. by Mayorkas is he’s using VA’s healthcare providers and now monies on the illegal aliens. He was asked about it in the committee meeting and refused to answer!

      1. They closed the downtown Honolulu Clinic located in the federal building back in the late ’90’s. Built a brand new facility; Spark M. Matsunaga clinic on the backside of Tripler. Went there for many years. worst healthcare ever!

        And claims processing for Disability was nothing but a cruel joke at best. Escaped Hawaii in November 2018. Moved to Alamo City. Had my seventh or eighth (stopped counting) suicide attempt in late 2019. I have never called the suicide hotline when I felt suicidal. Spent Christmas season 2019 locked up in the Mental Health Ward in the basement of Audie L. Murphy VAMC.

        When I got out in January 2020, my social worker referred my case to the Texas Veterans Commission. Somebody finally (which the VA should have done 25 years earlier) took an hour to review my record. They scheduled me for a new C&P exam. Within two weeks of that exam, I was rated 100% P&T. Shame I did not have an active old claim in. But I had given up on the Hawaii VA a few years before. Did not even let them know I was moving to Texas.

  6. In other Charlie Foxtrot news, MyHealthEVet just took a hugh dump. I’ve used it successfully for years with nary a hiccup – it was a valuable tool, especially in the last couple years. Now, the change-over to the new system … totally screwed. Now I have to call, and wait, and wait. VA Neuro in Portland has never responded to a voicemail.

    Nice to see that a pharma thief got convicted. Meanwhile, the opiod murderers are getting off Scot-free. Follow the money bitches.

    1. You need to watch and share thid.
      “$58 billion to Ukraine, VA funds to our borders!”

      Mayorkas is having a field day with OUR monies!

  7. So, does “2 year probation sentence” equal removal from government employment? Is this a conviction? Does he have a felony record now? Bottom line, does he still work for the VA?

  8. Hey, Ben, glad your finally starting to report on the crap VA does daily. You missed the real bad one last month in Georgia. Where thousands of veterans had to be contacted over the employees NOT cleaning the colonoscopy machines correctly – AGAIN! This was reported by military dot com. Then all of a sudden – couldn’t even hear crickets chirping!
    I bet you could find something to report on daily. Just take a look at the comments sections on here! They’re loaded with information!

    1. Hey Elf! What’s a URL to that story in Georgia?

      That is super gross, and I think veterans need to be aware.

      1. Sorry Ben,
        All I remember it was military dot com story. If I find it I’ll send it to you!
        Here’s one today;
        “$48 billion (total) to Ukraine since March, VA funds going to secure OUR border!”
        If you believe Mayorkas, it’ll bite ya.
        Also, during some committee meeting Mayorkas was asked why he’s using VA healthcare providers on illegals! Of course he didn’t answer the question!

      2. Here’s one story on it. There’s others. I just grabbed the first one.

        Although this was first addressed in feb 2022, military dot com didn’t report on it until late March early April.

      3. Believe this is what Elf is referring to:


  9. People need to STOP calling them “painkillers”(NOT one word, bad grammar – healthcare is one word). Why, because that designation increases the chances the person is confused as to what they do. They do NOT kill the pain, only relieve the pain temporarily.

    So, start calling them what they really are – ‘pain relievers’. Especially news people and those in important positions must NEVER call them pain killers because that increases the hype!

    I figured out how to deal with severe pain by only using a few very small dose pain relievers over a period of 2-3 days.

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