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Denver nurse who stole opioids, replaced empty vials with saline gets 2 years in prison

Posted at 4:18 PM, Sep 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-18 18:24:06-04

DENVER – A former nurse was sentenced Wednesday to two years in federal prison for allegedly stealing opioids from the University of Colorado Hospital, injecting herself with the drugs and then replacing the empty vials with other substances, authorities said.

Kacye Unruh entered a plea agreement on charges of stealing opioids by deceit and tampering with a consumer product, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

She was arrested in 2016, accused of stealing the drugs from May to July of that year while she worked in the acute dialysis department at the hospital. Prosecutors said she used her position as a nurse to access secure machines that held opioid vials, steal the opioids and then inject herself with the drugs in a bathroom.

Unruh would then re-fill the stolen opioid vials with a saline solution and return the tampered vials back to the machines. Patients who needed opioids to treat their pain received vials that had "substantially less of the active ingredients than expected" of opioids, a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

“This defendant took potent pain medicine that was intended for patients and used it to satisfy her addiction,” U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn said in a statement.

Unruh was placed on leave from the hospital in July 2016 and her state nursing license was suspended.