Senior in pharmacy program convicted, gets jail term
An Oregon State University pharmacy student has been convicted of dealing heroin to a police informant.
Christopher Alan Ploghoft, 23, of Tigard, pleaded no contest Thursday to delivery of heroin. Benton County Circuit Judge Locke Williams sentenced Ploghoft to 20 days in jail and two years of post-prison supervision.
"This is a situation which is quite large and quite tragic," Ploghoft's attorney, Stephen Houze, said during Thursday's hearing. Houze said Ploghoft became "addicted to drugs at an early age, which led him to lead two lives."
Judge Williams said this was an unusual case, because Ploghoft was both an excellent student and a drug user and dealer.
"It's a shame that this addiction has destroyed a dream," Williams said.
Ploghoft was identified as a dealer through a police informant in early April. After initially conspiring with Ploghoft to sell the informant 14 grams of heroin, on April 4 the informant arranged to buy .07 grams of heroin from Ploghoft. Two days later, police executed a search warrant at Ploghoft's apartment at 620 N.W. 21st St., where they seized evidence connecting Ploghoft to heroin trafficking.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Chris Stringer explained that no legal difference exists between conspiring to deliver or actually delivering drugs.
Stringer said that Ploghoft, who was in his senior year at OSU, had been so well thought of at the College of Pharmacy prior to his arrest that he was recommended to take part in law enforcement's annual Drug Take Back event. Corvallis police and the Benton County Sheriff's Office held the drug disposal event April 30.
At the event, the public was invited to return unused prescription medicine at a location staffed by law enforcement officials. The goal of the event was reducing the amount of prescription drugs that could find their way to the street or be flushed and eventually affect the water supply.
But after Ploghoft was mentioned as a possible dealer in early April, Stringer said the Street Crimes Unit expedited the investigation to arrest him before he was to participate in the drug take-back.
"We didn't want him in that position knowing that he's dealing heroin," Stringer said.
Houze said Ploghoft earned good grades at OSU and was a good son in the eyes of his parents, but he slowly became more involved with drugs.
"He was suffering in silence (from) heroin addiction," Houze said. "It wasn't an accidental thing for him to (study) pharmacy."
Houze said that after his arrest, Ploghoft soon was released from the jail due to crowding. He then enrolled in and completed an inpatient drug treatment program.
Stringer said that he has been in touch with the Oregon State Board of Pharmacy, which is aware of the case. According to the board, Ploghoft does not have a pharmacy license. A spokesperson for OSU was not immediately available Thursday to confirm whether Ploghoft completed his degree requirements and the full implications of his arrest and conviction.
Ploghoft, who remained silent during his sentencing, declined to speak afterward with a reporter.
Emily Gillespie can be reached at 541-758-9548 or firstname.lastname@example.org.