Crime

Nurse practitioner admits to stealing painkillers, misbranding drugs in Meridian

TNS

Meridian nurse practitioner Cheri Susan Thomas, 37, pleaded guilty Tuesday to obtaining controlled substances by fraud, identity theft and misbranding a drug while held for sale.

A Boise federal grand jury indicted Thomas on Jan. 9, according to the Idaho U.S. Attorney’s Office.

According to court records, Thomas was employed as a nurse practitioner by a medical facility with multiple facilities in Idaho. Each facility had a locked cabinet where controlled substances, including painkillers, were kept.

Thomas did not have access to the locked cabinets. On at least seven occasions, however, Thomas accessed the cabinets at different facilities, and took bottles of Schedule II controlled substances, including hydrocodone.

Thomas then replaced the controlled substances with different medications, resealed the bottles and placed them back in the cabinets. For example, on Oct. 31, Thomas knowingly and intentionally removed a bottle of hydrocodone containing 20 tablets. She removed the hydrocodone pills, replaced them with Flexeril tablets, and put the bottle back into the cabinet.

The replacement of the controlled substances with other medication caused the drugs to be misbranded, since the labeling no longer matched the bottle’s contents.

When Thomas replaced the misbranded drugs back into the cabinet, she moved the pack of bottles around to place the misbranded drugs in the back.

On two occasions, Thomas knowingly and intentionally forged fraudulent prescriptions to herself using another provider’s information.

For example, on Oct. 26, Thomas forged a prescription for hydrocodone/APAP 10mg/325mg using another provider’s information to facilitate the crime of obtaining controlled substances by fraud. The other provider never saw Thomas as a patient and did not authorize the prescription.

Thomas fraudulently filled the prescription in Meridian, obtaining 30 tablets of hydrocodone.

Obtaining controlled substances by fraud is punishable by up to four years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and a term of one year of supervised release. Identity theft is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000 and a term of three years of supervised release. Misbranding a drug while held for sale is punishable by up to three years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000 and a term of one year of supervised release.

Sentencing is set for June 5 before Senior U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge.

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