A United Parcel Service worker pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges stemming from a sting operation last year in which his hands and face were splattered with blue dye when he tried to steal drugs from a package that he thought was intended for a Maine veteran.

Nathan Brown, 24, of Lewiston pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Portland to theft from an interstate shipment and possession of oxycodone.

Federal authorities were called in after the pharmacy manager at the Veterans Administration medical facility in Togus began getting complaints in April 2013 that veterans had not received their shipments of prescription narcotic medications, according to court records.

On July 2, federal agents working with consent from UPS prepared a package of 60 Percocet pills, which contain the painkilling drug oxycodone, with a blue dye pack inside. They left that package among other packages that Brown would be loading on his truck at the UPS facility in Auburn, according to a document filed Tuesday by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Chapman.

“Nathan Brown took control of the package as he was loading it into his truck, left the loading dock and went into the men’s room. There, he opened the package, removed the pills and began to ingest them. Agents then entered the bathroom and caught Brown in the act, observing that Brown had blue dye on his face and hands,” Chapman wrote in the document.

Brown told the agents that he had stolen four other shipments of pills from the UPS facility in the period from March to July, and that he had used some of the 536 pills for himself and sold others, according to court records.

Brown faces as much as three years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the theft charge, and as much as a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000 on the drug charge. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 6.

Brown remains free on an unsecured bail bond of $5,000.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

sdolan@pressherald.com

Twitter: @scottddolan