SKOWHEGAN — A former resident of the Trinity Men’s Shelter is facing charges in the theft of prescription drugs belonging to residents, according to police.

John Donovan, 45, was living at the shelter up until the time of the theft, which happened over the weekend, according to Skowhegan Police Chief Edward Blais.

Donovan was arrested late Wednesday and charged with unlawful possession of scheduled drugs after police responded to a dispute at an apartment at 45 Main St.

The prescription medication was recovered, but police are holding the drugs as evidence, leaving shelter residents without their medication.

On Thursday, John Martins, spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services said that because of the unique situation, the department will try to work out with shelter officials and Skowhegan police on a way to help the MaineCare patients who lost their medication get their prespcriptions refilled. Normally, prescriptions for drugs that are stolen from those with MaineCare — which is Medicaid — can’t be refilled.

“Since this is not a daily occurrence, there is no established protocol,” Martins said. “We will pursue speaking with law enforcement and the shelter to determine who was affected and if their medication will be held as evidence. If a patient’s medication is held as evidence, we want to work to help them.”

The Rev. Richard Berry, pastor of the Trinity Evangelical Free Church, which operates the shelter said Wednesday that many of those whose medication was stolen are on MaineCare and he was concerned it would be difficult to get them back.

Police said Donovan was arrested after another resident of the building where Donovan now lives reported him after “a disagreement.”

“When officers got there, they ended up discovering the drugs, which were in plain view,” Blais said.

Blais said Donovan had been staying at the apartment since the theft, and police were alerted by the 911 caller that Donovan was the man who took the drugs from the shelter.

“As the officers were responding, the residents of the building told the dispatcher that these people are the ones who stole the drugs,” Blais said.

The prescription drugs police found in the apartment are being held as evidence and will not be given back to the shelter.

“Who knows what they’ve been tampered with?” Blais said. “Because of that, we can’t give them back.”

The drugs, which belonged to about 75 people staying at the shelter, were valued at more than $1,000 and included stimulants, painkillers, anti-depressants, asthma medication, narcotics and those used to treat other mental and behavioral health issues, according to Blais. The drugs were in a locked cabinet that was removed from the shelter and opened nearby. The empty locker was later found.

Donovan was arrested on a class C felony charge of unlawful possession of scheduled drugs, and Blais said more charges could be pending following a completed investigation.

Two other residents of the apartment were also arrested, Blais said, but those were on unrelated warrants. Blais said additional charges could still come against Timothy Matthew Timberlake, 51, of Skowhegan, and Cathy Jo Cinanni, 42, also of Skowhegan.

Jesse Scardina — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @jessescardina