News and Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Sept. 2, 2010

GODDARD NURSE INDICTED ON CHARGE OF DILUTING PATIENTS’ MORPHINE


TOPEKA, KAN. – A nurse from Goddard, Kan., has been indicted on charges of diluting patients’ morphine, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.

Deborah J. Riggs, 55, Goddard, Kan., is charged with five counts of tampering with a consumer product and five counts of adulterating a drug. The indictment alleges that in December 2009 Riggs was working as a nurse for Halstead Health and Rehabilitation in Halstead, Kan., when she diluted morphine being given to five patients. She removed from 32 percent to 62 percent of the contents of bottles of morphine sulfate solution and replaced the contents with another substance.

“The indictment alleges Riggs’ actions were taken with reckless disregard for and extreme indifference to the risk that another person would be placed in danger of death or bodily injury,” Grissom said.

The indictment alleges that Riggs had been convicted in 1998 on federal charges of acquiring controlled substances by fraud and sentenced to two years probation. In February 2000 the Kansas Board of Nursing suspended Riggs’ nursing license, but stayed the suspension to allow her to continue nursing if she met certain conditions and requirements. In August 2008, the Kansas Board of Nursing suspended Riggs’ license for drug abuse and stealing narcotics while she was a nurse at Wesley Medical. The nursing board stayed the suspension.

If convicted, Riggs faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and fine up to $250,000 on each count of tampering, and a maximum penalty of three years and a fine up to $10,000 on each count of adulterating a drug. The Food and Drug Administration investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway is prosecuting.



OTHER INDICTMENTS



A federal grand jury meeting in Topeka, Kan., also returned the following indictments:

Rafael Bravo-Macias, 39, Long Beach, Calif, and Hector Zarate-Oseguera, 22, Long Beach, Calif., are charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and one count of traveling in interstate commerce in furtherance of drug trafficking. The crimes are alleged to have occurred March 1, 2010, in Shawnee County, Kan.

If convicted, they face a penalty of not less than 10 years and not more than life in federal prison and a fine up to $4 million on the possession charge and a maximum penalty of five years and a fine up to $250,000 on the interstate travel charge. The Drug Enforcement Administration investigated. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard is prosecuting.

Douglas R. Silberman, 66, Petaluma, Calif., and Michele King, 61, Sausalito, Calif., are charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana and one count of possession with intent to distribute hashish. The crimes are alleged to have occurred July 23, 2010, in Shawnee County, Kan.

If convicted, they face a penalty of not less than five years and not more than 40 years in federal prison and a fine up to $2 million on the marijuana charge, and a maximum penalty of five years and a fine up to $250,000 on the hashish charge. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Kansas Highway Patrol investigated. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard is prosecuting.

Vashawn Michael Fitzpatrick, 22, Topeka, Kan., is charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition after a felony conviction. The crime is alleged to have occurred June 5, 2010, in Shawnee County, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Hendershot is prosecuting.

Jose Alfredo Contreras-Villegas, 49, a citizen of Mexico, is charged with unlawfully re-entering the United States after being convicted of an aggravated felony and deported. He was found April 16, 2008, in Butler County, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson is prosecuting.

Rachael Knapp, 33, Topeka, Kan., is charged with one count of possession of stolen mail, one count of possession with intent to unlawfully use more than five identification documents, one count of using another person’s identification documents with intent to commit a felony, and one count of using another person’s identification to commit a federal crime. The crimes are alleged to have occurred in June 2008 in Shawnee County, Kan.

Upon conviction, the crimes carry the following penalties:
Possession of stolen mail: A maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Possession with intent to unlawfully use more than five identification documents: A maximum penalty of five years and a fine up to $250,000.
Using another person’s identity documents to commit a felony: A maximum penalty of five years and a fine up to $250,000.
Using another person’s identification documents to commit a federal crime: A maximum penalty of two years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard is prosecuting.

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.




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