February 1, 2016: Worcester Nurse Sentenced for Stealing Oxycodone from Patients
BOSTON – A nurse was sentenced on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in U.S. District Court in Worcester for stealing pain medication from patients in a nursing care facility in Worcester.
Joanna Dacri, 34, of Auburn, Mass., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman to three years of probation, the first six months of which is to be served in home detention. In Novebmer 2015, Dacri pleaded guilty to one count of acquiring and obtaining Oxycodone by deception.
“Healthcare professionals stealing opioids to feed an addiction pose a compound threat to patients,” said United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “Not only are they denying patients of necessary pain management, but they are often ‘caring’ for patients while under the influence of narcotics.”
From February to June 2014, Dacri was a nurse at a Worcester nursing care facility. During that period, she stole numerous Oxycodone tablets prescribed to three patients, and surreptitiously substituted other, similar-looking tablets, specifically Loratadine (antihistamine) tablets and Mirtazapine (antidepressant) tablets, in place of the Oxycodone tablets.
This case is being prosecuted as part of the federal response to the growing opioid epidemic in Massachusetts. National health data reveals that two-thirds of heroin addicts start their opioid addition with the unlawful use of prescription painkillers such as oxycodone.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Spencer Morrison, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, New York Field Office; Michael J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Field Division; and Commissioner Monica Bharel, M.D., M.P.H, of Massachusetts Department of Health, made the announcement. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Young Paik of Ortiz’s Health Care Fraud Unit.