Former VA hospice nurse pleads guilty to diverting and tampering with morphine meant for dying veterans

Massachusetts
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BOSTON (USDOJ) – A Tewksbury woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of diverting morphine while she employed as a nurse in the hospice unit at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center campus in Bedford.

Kathleen Noftle, 55, pleaded guilty to one count of tampering with a consumer product and one count of obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception and subterfuge. U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton scheduled sentencing for Feb. 24, 2021. Noftle was arrested and charged in September 2019.

On Jan. 13, 14 and 15, 2017, Noftle used her position as a nurse to obtain doses of morphine that were meant to be given to the veterans under her care in the hospice unit. Noftle admitted that she mixed water from the sink with a portion of the liquid morphine doses, and then administered the diluted medication to patients orally. Noftle then ingested a diluted amount of the remaining drug.     

 The charge of tampering with a consumer product provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception and subterfuge provides for a sentence of up to four years in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

 United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Christopher Algieri, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Field Office made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney William B. Brady of Lelling’s Health Care Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case.

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