Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of North Carolina
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 8, 2021
GREENSBORO, N.C. - A Winston-Salem woman pleaded guilty today to attempting to tamper with consumer products, announced U.S. Attorney Sandra J. Hairston for the Middle District of North Carolina.
According to court filed documents, Emilee Kathryn Poteat, 32, removed and opened packages containing vials of injectable Hydromorphone from Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center (NHFMC) while employed as a contact nurse in the Clinical Pre/Post Procedure Unit. From July, 2020 to November, 2020, Poteat removed vials for the purpose of converting and consuming the Hydromorphone by injecting the drug into herself. Poteat then replaced the used vials with tampered vials containing a saline solution. Poteat knew that, in doing so, nurses at NHFMC might unknowingly administer the contents of compromised vials to patients.
Virginia Department of Health Investigator Laura Pezzulo began an investigation into Poteat’s handling of the drugs after NHFMC provided vials they suspected had been tampered with by Poteat. Poteat later admitted to tampering with the injectable Hydromorphone in an interview with Investigator Pezzulo.
“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 Mark S. McCormack, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Metro Washington 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.”
U.S. District Judge Loretta C. Biggs will set sentencing at a later date. At sentencing, Poteat faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, a period of supervised release, and monetary penalties.
Sandra J. Hairston, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, made the announcement. Agents with the Food and Drug Administration/Criminal Investigation Division investigated the case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank J. Chut.
USAO - North Carolina, Middle