Local traveling nurse sentenced for tampering with medicine

The Department of Justice has sentenced a traveling nurse to 42 months in prison for tampering with vials of fentanyl and replacing it with saline.

According to U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen, Joseph Howard, 34, of Ashland, Kentucky, worked in Roanoke as a nurse from November 2017 to December 2017.

He said Howard previously pleaded guilty to tampering with a consumer product that affects interstate commerce, with reckless disregard for the risk that another person will be placed in danger of death or serious injury.

"Hospitals, doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and manufacturers must do everything in their power to track and control every dose of these addictive and often-abused drugs to ensure they are being used in accordance with limited prescribed uses," U.S. Attorney Cullen said.

According to evidence, during Howard's time working in Roanoke, he tampered with vials of liquid fentanyl, extracted the fentanyl for his personal use, and replaced it with saline. He then gave the diluted vials to patients at the hospital where he worked.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Food and Drug Administration-OCI, the Virginia Department of Health Professions, and the Virginia State Police. Assistant United States Attorney Randy Ramseyer prosecuted the case for the United States.



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