April 5, 2017: Worcester Nurse Sentenced for Drug Tampering
BOSTON – A Worcester nurse was sentenced today in connection with stealing painkillers from the nursing home where she worked, and then attempting to conceal her crime by replacing the medication with saline.
Lea Roberge, 33, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman to 20 months in prison and three years of supervised release. In January 2017, Roberge pleaded guilty to two counts of tampering with a consumer product, specifically the Schedule II controlled substance morphine, which is used for pain relief.
On two separate occasions in March 2015, while working as a registered nurse at Holy Trinity Eastern Orthodox Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Roberge tampered with morphine sulfate contained in emergency narcotic kits. The kits are available for use at the nursing home in case of an emergency when there is not enough time to obtain medication from the pharmacy. Roberge, who had access to these emergency narcotic kits, used a syringe to extract morphine from six vials and one bottle. In an attempt to avoid detection, she replaced the extracted medication with saline, thereby decreasing the potency of the drug.
Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; Jeffrey Ebersole, Special Agent in Charge of the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, New York Field Office; and Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH, of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Lauren Dineen Jerrett of Weinreb’s Worcester Branch Office prosecuted the case.