SPOKANE Omak nurse Cory J. Riehart has been sentenced in federal court to 27 months in prison for adulterating a drug and misbranding a drug with intent to defraud or mislead.
Riehart, 32, was sentenced Oct. 16 in U.S. District Court in Spokane. She pleaded guilty in July, said Joseph H. Harrington, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.
U.S. District Judge Stanley A. Bastion sentenced Riehart to prison plus a one-year term of court supervision following release from federal prison. The judge also ordered Riehart to pay $1,230 in restitution.
Riehart has been in custody since July 21.
According to information disclosed during court proceedings, while working as a registered nurse at Ferry County Memorial Hospital, Riehart adulterated and misbranded three vials and 79 carpujects of pain medication that were intended for patients.
A carpuject is a syringe device for administering injectable fluid medications.
Riehart removed morphine and hydromorphone directly from the carpujects and vials, refilled the carpujects and vials with saline solution, and then returned the refilled, misbranded and adulterated medications to the hospital’s locked narcotics drawers outside the nurse’s station and emergency room, according to court documents.
Hospital staff discovered the adulterated and misbranded medications during routine narcotics counts, removed the drugs to the pharmacy and notified the Republic Police Department.
Subsequent chemical analysis by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed that the pain medications had been adulterated and misbranded because they contained less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the volume of controlled substance specified on the drug manufacturer label for each medication.
“Adulterating pain medications intended for patients seeking treatment in a hospital is not only a breach of the public’s trust in the medical profession, but is a callous disregard of basic human compassion for people suffering pain,” said Harrington. “The United States Attorney’s Office in this district has and will prosecute aggressively any such criminal conduct.”
“Putting patients and their treatment at risk is never acceptable,” said Lisa Malinowski, special agent in charge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations Los Angeles Field Office. “The FDA will continue to pursue all individuals, including health care workers, who adulterate and misbrand drugs.”
In October 2016, the state Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission suspended Riehart’s license based on allegations of narcotics diversion and abuse of controlled substances.
The state charges alleged Riehart admitted taking controlled substances from at least two facilities where she worked. She also allegedly went to an emergency room appearing impaired and complaining that a needle broke off in her arm while she was injecting heroin.
She was charged with third-degree theft in Ferry County in connection with allegedly diverting controlled substances and in Okanogan County with driving under the influence of morphine and methamphetamine.
On Jan. 3, she pleaded guilty in Okanogan County Superior Court to third-degree assault and was sentenced to three months in jail. The assault occurred Sept. 10, 2016.