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Published: Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 1:40 p.m.

Man blames sleeping pill for Spokane vandalism

SPOKANE -- A Lakewood school official accused of vandalizing the posh Davenport Hotel during an education conference in Spokane blames a negative reaction to a prescription sleeping pill for his behavior.
Spokane Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Shane Smith told The Spokesman-Review that James N. Paxinos will enter a diversion program that requires he complete 50 hours of community service and pay $1,200.
The assistant superintendent from the Clover Park School District is accused of climbing through the ceiling panel of a restroom the night of June 25 to reach the roof of the hotel, where he threw rolls of roofing material, jugs of cleaning fluid and food to the street below.
His lawyer, Steve Graham, said Paxinos had an adverse reaction to the sleeping pill Ambien.
Paxinos, 43, was staying at the Davenport while attending a superintendents and principals conference.
A security guard working the night of June 25 noticed a gallon jug of cleaner falling from the hotel's roof to the ground, according to an arrest affidavit.
The guard watched security footage and saw Paxinos entering and leaving the building multiple times. He also found damage in offices in the building's top floor, according to the affidavit. The guard was able to search Paxinos' key card records and identify him.
Police contacted Paxinos, who told them he was "very intoxicated" and unable to remember much of what he had done.
That was the first time Paxinos took the medicine, Graham said, adding that Paxinos also had at least one drink that night.
Paxinos told police he remembered accessing the roof, though he knew he wasn't supposed to. He acknowledged throwing two jugs of cleaner, rolls of roofing material and food from the roof, according to court documents.
Paxinos told police he also climbed through a ceiling panel in the men's bathroom on the top floor then fell through the ceiling in another office.
Graham said Paxinos was in a confused state when he burglarized the rooms, adding he has represented dozens of clients who report similar reactions to Ambien.
"It's something we see more and more of," Graham said about Paxinos' reaction to the medication. "It's just kind of unpredictable, unexplainable behavior."
Smith said Paxinos will enroll in the diversion program, which monitors low-risk offenders without formal prosecution. Smith said Paxinos has no criminal history, so the program provides him the opportunity to clean his record.
Paxinos is currently on paid administrative leave until the school district completes its investigation, Graham said.

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