Press-Republican

February 1, 2013

Nurses plead guilty in medication fraud cases

By FELICIA KRIEG
Press-Republican

---- — ALBANY — Two former CVPH Medical Center nurses recently pleaded guilty to charges related to prescription-medication fraud.

One has been sentenced, and the other will go before a judge next month.

FORGED PRESCRIPTIONS

Last year, the New York State Attorney General’s Office reported that Ann Witt, 38, then a licensed practical nurse at CVPH, had stolen blank prescriptions forms from physicians she worked closely with. 

Between August 2010 and February 2011, she forged 16 prescriptions with her name, the type and quantity of drug, and filled them at various pharmacies in the City of Plattsburgh on 12 different dates, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Witt obtained more than 1,500 hydrocodone and Xanax pills for her own personal use, the Attorney General’s Office said.

Her actions were exposed when one pharmacy called CVPH to verify the authenticity of a prescription.

Witt originally pleaded not guilty to 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.

Later, she admitted to second-degree forgery. Her plea agreement includes 30 days in jail, five years probation and the surrender of her LPN license, the Attorney General’s Office said.

Witt’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 14.

MEDS FROM MACHINE

Another LPN at CVPH was charged with stealing oxycodone pills for her own use, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Wendy Therrian, 35, of Altona allegedly took two 5-milligram oxycodone pills from the PYXIS machine, an automated medication management system, 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 patient, the Attorney General’s Office said. She also admitted to taking oxycodone pills for her personal use that were prescribed to a patient.

The Attorney General’s Office said Tuesday that Therrian falsified medical records to indicate the medication was distributed to the patient.

She originally pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree falsifying of business records, a felony; fourth-degree computer tampering; seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance; and petit larceny, all misdemeanors.

Therrian later pleaded guilty to one count of fourth-degree computer tampering.

She was sentenced on Jan. 18 in Plattsburgh City Court to three years of probation, including drug treatment. She was also ordered to surrender her LPN license and pay a $250 fine.

BOTH FIRED

Both women were fired after internal investigations conducted by CVPH, the hospital said last August.

The statement said CVPH immediately reported the crimes to the appropriate regulatory agencies and continued to cooperate with the Attorney General’s Office.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also recently reported that his office recovered more than $335 million in 2012 that was improperly claimed through fraud or abuse in the Medicaid system.

It is the second-highest annual recovery total every by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Email Felicia Krieg: fkrieg@pressrepublican.com