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Former Nurse Sentenced on Drug Charges

ROANOKE, VIRGINIA -- A former nurse at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem, Virginia, was sentenced this morning in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Roanoke on charges related to the theft of a strong pain killing medication.

Amy Elizabeth McCoy, 28, of Riner, Va., waived her right to be indicted and pled guilty in June to a two-count Information charging her with two counts of obtaining Fentanyl, a schedule II substance, through misrepresentation, fraud, forgery or deception. Today in District Court, she was sentenced to 30 days of federal incarceration to be followed by a period of supervised release of one-year. It was ordered that five months of the defendant's supervised release must be spent in home confinement.

"When she used drugs meant for her patients, Ms. McCoy abused the trust placed in her by the Department of Veterans Affairs and violated the oath she took when she became a nurse," United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said today. "She fell far short of the high standard of professionalism and care expected of health care providers at the VA and beyond. This office will vigorously investigate waste, fraud and abuse in our health care system and bring those that commit these terrible acts to justice."

McCoy has admitted that while working as a registered nurse at the Salem Veterans Facility, she was responsible for the care of veterans in the intensive care unit. Due to her position as a RN, McCoy had access to the OmniCell machines that dispense medications, including Fentanyl.

In order to obtain the painkillers, McCoy admitted that she would remove Fentanyl from machines in the names of patients who did not have active medication orders for Fentanyl, remove two or more ampoules of Fentanyl from the machines in the names of patients who had active medication orders for only a single ampoule of Fentanyl and by removing Fentanyl through a syringe from patient controlled analgesia machines after a patient was unhooked from the machine.

The defendant admitted to personally using the diverted Fentanyl while at work and on-duty at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Department of Veteran Affairs. Assistant United States Attorney Charlene Day is prosecuting the case for the United States.

September 30, 2011 www.usdoj.gov

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