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Federal Jury Finds Former Nurse Guilty of Fraudulently Obtaining and Tampering with Opioid Pain Killer

OCI BadgeDepartment of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Utah

Friday, July 23, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY- Nathan Pehrson, 41, of Sandy, was convicted by a federal jury in the District of Utah of three counts related to fraudulently obtaining and tampering with the pain killing narcotic hydromorphone, a powerful schedule II opioid drug that is used to treat patients with moderate to severe pain.

The jury found that during Pehrson’s employment as a nurse at an Intermountain Healthcare facility on a surgical and trauma ward, that he diverted hydromorphone from pre-loaded syringes for his personal use, replaced the pain medication with saline solution, and then returned the syringes containing greatly reduced amounts of the pain killer hydromorphone for medical use by other hospital staff. Pehrson was also convicted of making false statements to a special agent from the Food and Drug Administration about his illegal activity while under investigation for his crimes. Pehrson’s sentencing is scheduled for October 12th. 

“Today’s guilty verdicts are proof that healthcare providers will be held accountable for stealing, using, or tampering with opioid pain medications meant for patients that are suffering,” said Acting United States Attorney Andrea T. Martinez. “The opioid epidemic has many faces, and no one is immune from the problems that we face in society with drug addiction. I commend the hospital staff who reported the defendant’s illegal activity to federal law enforcement.”

“The FDA oversees the U.S. drug supply to ensure that it is safe and effective, and those who knowingly tamper with medicines put patients’ health at risk,” said Special Agent in Charge Charles L. Grinstead, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Kansas City Field Office. “We will continue to protect the public health and bring to justice health care professionals who take advantage of their unique position and compromise their patients’ health and comfort by tampering with needed drugs.”

Assistant United States Attorneys from the Utah U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case against Pehrson. Special Agents from the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations conducted the investigation.
USAO - Utah


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