PLATTSBURGH — Two nurses at CVPH Medical Center face felony charges in connection with the alleged theft of prescription pads and controlled substances.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Thursday reported the arrest of Ann Witt, 38, of Ellenburg Center for allegedly using her position to steal blank prescriptions and forge the prescriptions to obtain hydrocodone and Xanax from pharmacies in the Plattsburgh area.
The Attorney General’s Office said Witt stole them from the physicians with whom she worked closely. Witt allegedly forged the blank prescriptions to include her own name, drug and quantity and presented the prescriptions to different pharmacies throughout the City of Plattsburgh.
In less than six months, it is alleged, Witt presented 16 forged prescriptions on 12 dates at five pharmacies to obtain more than 1,500 hydrocodone and Xanax pills. It was not until one pharmacy called CVPH to verify the authenticity of a prescription presented that the alleged forgeries by Witt were discovered.
The Attorney General’s Office charged Wendy Therrian, 35, of Altona with stealing oxycodone pills from CVPH. She allegedly took two 5-miligram oxycodone pills from the PYXIS machine during each hospital shift between January 2011 and Dec. 29, 2011.
Therrian admitted to using the computer PYXIS machine to create temporary user accounts under the name of a resident, the Attorney General’s Office said, and removed Oxycodone pills prescribed for a resident for her personal use.
Witt was charged with 16 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and second-degree forgery, both felonies, as well as seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor. She faces a maximum of 10 to 20 years in state prison.
Therrian was charged with first-degree falsifying business records, a felony, as well as fourth-degree computer tampering, fourth-degree computer tampering, seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and petit larceny, all misdemeanors. She faces a maximum of 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison based on her felony charge.
Both women were arraigned before Judge Mark Rogers in Plattsburgh City Court and pleaded not guilty.
Witt and Therrian were removed from duty after internal investigations, according to a statement from CVPH Medical Center.
In both instances, CVPH Medical Center immediately reported the matter to the appropriate regulatory agencies and has continued to cooperate with the Attorney General’s Office, the statement said.
NEW TRACKING SYSTEM
The ability to fill multiple forged prescriptions for controlled substances at various pharmacies in a short period of time is an example of what the new Internet System for Tracking Overprescribing (I-STOP), recently passed into law, is designed to prevent.
“This example of fraud and abuse is just one of the reasons why my office spearheaded the effort to pass I-STOP, and highlights how we will aggressively prosecute those who use their positions to defraud the Medicaid system,” Schneiderman said in a press release.
“Both of these nurses used their positions for their own personal gain, and now they will be held accountable. My office will continue to aggressively combat the prescription-drug crisis with every tool at our disposal.”
The legislation, introduced in June 2011, led to creation of an online database that enables doctors and pharmacists to report and track controlled narcotics in real time. Once it is fully operational, the system is expected to vastly enhance the effectiveness of the present system.
Its goal is to enable doctors and pharmacists to provide prescription medication to patients who truly need them. At the same time, it will help them detect potentially dangerous drug interactions; identify patterns of abuse or fraud by patients, doctors, nurses and pharmacists; help those who suffer from crippling addictions; and prevent potential addiction before it starts.
The investigation that resulted in the two arrests was conducted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Erin Lynch and Regional Director Kathleen Boland, as well as Investigator Michael Connolly under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Diane Tuffey and Chief of Investigations Kelly L. Donovan. Monica J. Hickey-Martin is the director of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
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