Bus driver charged in pills case removed from routes 

Lisa Tillman, a former Beverly hospital pharmacy tech accused of stealing thousands of pills, is no longer driving a school bus in Salisbury. (Staff file photo)

BEVERLY — The superintendent of the Triton Regional School District in Newbury said Monday that a Salem woman charged with stealing nearly 18,000 pills while working at Beverly Hospital is no longer driving a bus route in the district. 

Lisa R. Tillman, 50, of 9 Linden St., had been driving routes for elementary, middle and high school students in the town of Salisbury since the start of the school year, Triton Superintendent Brian Forget said Monday. 

After he learned of Tillman's pending drug larceny charges, however, he asked her employer, NRT Bus, to remove her from any routes in the district, which includes the towns of Salisbury, Rowley and Newbury. 

"She is not and will not be a driver for the Triton schools," Forget said. 

Forget does not know her current employment status with NRT, which has a contract with the district to transport students. A message left for NRT president John McCarthy was not immediately returned. 

Tillman was charged Oct. 16 and made her first court appearance Oct. 30 in Salem District Court, where she pleaded not guilty to a charge of larceny of a drug. 

Police reports say Tillman told investigators that the pills were for personal use; she denied selling any of the medications, which included powerful opiates like OxyContin, Percocet and fentanyl. 

She remains free on $10,000 personal surety, meaning she does not have to post bail unless she misses a future court date. She was ordered to stay away from Beverly Hospital and several satellite campuses in Danvers, Gloucester and Lynn while the case is pending. 

On Friday, prosecutors tried unsuccessfully to convince Judge Randy Chapman to add a condition barring Tillman from driving a school bus, after learning that she was working for NRT Bus. 

Chapman denied the request, but ordered that the court be provided with proof that the company was aware of the pending charge. 

Tillman's attorney told the judge on Friday that she was hired by NRT in April after obtaining her commercial driver's license. That was before state police filed the criminal charge against her, in October. 

Alerted by parent

Forget said Tillman's case was brought to his attention by a parent, who sent him a copy of The Salem News articles on the case on Friday. 

Under the terms of the district's contract with NRT, Forget said, the district has the ability to request that a driver be removed. 

"Under our current contract, we are able to say we do or do not want a driver," said Forget. "NRT has always been very responsive." 

NRT has held the transportation contract for about a decade, he said. 

Forget, who has been with the district for 16 years, the past three as superintendent, said he's aware of other instances of drivers being removed from the district, but none of those incidents were similar to the Tillman case. 

Tillman had been driving students from Salisbury to Triton Middle and High School in the Byfield section of Newbury, then returning to Salisbury to drive younger students to Salisbury Elementary School, Forget said. 

The case is believed to be among the largest drug diversions from a hospital in state history, a prosecutor said on Friday. 

The state Department of Public Health has confirmed that the agency is continuing to investigate the matter. 

On Friday, a representative of the Drug Enforcement Administration, which also oversees drug diversion cases, filed a request with Salem District Court for copies of the case file, according to court papers.  

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis. 

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