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I-Team: New details about accused Niagara Falls pharmacist, who has history of violations

Victim: 'He told me to take off my shirt and bra'
Posted at 5:50 PM, Aug 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-16 19:10:34-04

He was the pharmacist everyone in Niagara Falls seemed to love.

“He’s friendly, he’s very nice,” said friend Diane Curtis.

But police say a female customer saw another side of pharmacist Robert Kendzia in June when he allegedly forced a female customer to strip down in a bathroom of his Buffalo Avenue pharmacy in exchange for filling her prescription for Oxycontin.

“He was charged with coercing her to do that, and that's what we believe happened,” said Niagara Falls Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto.

Kendzia's arrest earlier this month and the Drug Enforcement Investigation into MacLeod’s Pharmacy came as a shock to many, but the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team uncovered records going back decades that show Kendzia has had years of disciplinary actions by the state and has even been convicted of a felony.

•   In 1980, prosecutors accused Kendzia of Medicaid fraud by putting generic versions of drugs in brand-name containers. He was convicted of grand larceny and other charges but the conviction was overturned by the state's highest court on a technicality.

•   Then in 1986, the State Office of Professional Discipline fined Kendzia $500 for dispensing the wrong medication to a patient.

•   He signed a consent order in 1992 after the state cited him again for medication mistakes.

•   In 1995, a probation violation got him a $1,500 fine and a two-year suspension of his license -- which was reduced to two more years of probation.

Kendzia declined to comment but his attorney, Dominic Saraceno, sought to play down the charges.

“If you look at any pharmacist who's 80 years old and who's been in the game as long as he has, you're going to find mistakes made like that because that's one industry where there's still a lot of human input,” Saraceno said.

Saraceno was quick to dismiss the latest alleged victim from the most recent coercion charge, raising questions about her character.

“Let's be cautious against convicting a man who served his community for 55 years based on the word of a drug addict with an extensive criminal history,” Saraceno said.

The I-Team has also learned more about her accusations against the pharmacist.

In a deposition obtained by the I-Team, she goes into detail about the way Kendzia allegedly convinced her to remove her clothes on several occasions.

 

"I had to come in on Tuesdays and Thursdays before the pharmacy opened or after they closed when he was the only one there," she wrote.

She said Kendzia told her to go into the bathroom with him.

"He told me to take off my shirt and bra and then he told me to take off my pants and underwear," she wrote, adding that he told her he wanted to check for needle marks.

Kendzia flatly denies ever having the customers remove their pants.  But in his statement to police, he admits to checking about twenty customers – 10 women and 10 men -- under their shirts.

The woman also states that Kendzia would yell at her for showing up during pharmacy hours and came across like he was trying to help her. 

She wrote, "Every time I go to MacLeod's Pharmacy to fill my prescription, I ask Bob why he has to check me every time, because I just saw my doctor. Bob tells me he has to make sure I'm not going to die on him." 

The I-Team has learned at least three people have now come forward to investigators with similar stories, and sources say the investigation is widening by the day.