Former Swedish Hospital Surgical Tech Sentenced for Tampering with a Consumer Product, Fentanyl, and Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Deception
DENVER – Rocky Allen, age 29, who resided in Denver, Colorado before his arrest, was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Raymond P. Moore to serve 78-months in federal prison, followed by 3 years on supervised release for tampering with a consumer product and obtaining a controlled substance by deception, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Englewood Police Department announced. Allen, who is free on bond and living at a halfway house, was released at the conclusion of the hearing, and ordered to report to a Bureau of Prisons facility within 15 days of designation.
Allen was first charged by Indictment on February 10, 2016. He pled guilty before Judge Moore on July 12, 2016. He was sentenced today, November 7, 2016.
According to court documents, including the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, from August 2015 to January 22, 2016, Allen was employed at Swedish Medical Center as a Surgical Technologist. He was not authorized to possess fentanyl, an opioid and a Schedule II narcotic. On January 22, 2016 at Swedish Hospital, numerous members of a surgical team were present in an operating room with a patient on the operating table. Allen entered the operating room although he was not assigned to staff that particular case. On that date and at that time, without permission and/or authority and acting with deception, Allen took a syringe originally loaded with 5 mL of 50 mcg/mL fentanyl and replaced it with another syringe containing saline solution. Allen had falsely labeled the replacement syringe with a sticker identifying the contents of the syringe as fentanyl. By switching the syringes, Allen introduced a syringe falsely purporting to contain fentanyl for use on a patient of the hospital. The replacement syringe was not used on the patient because a Neuro Spine Coordinator assigned to the operating room witnessed Allen switch the syringes and alerted the anesthesiologist not to use it.
As part of the hospital’s internal investigation, on January 22, 2016, Allen voluntarily submitted to a urine screen. Testing determined the presence of fentanyl, norfentanyl, and marijuana. The contents of the replacement syringe were tested and were consistent with saline solution. It was determined by investigators on that day that Allen acted with reckless disregard for and extreme indifference to the risk that another person would be placed in danger of bodily injury. Allen also obtained the controlled substance by means of deceit. In June of this year it was announced that Allen carries HIV (subtype B) and that he is negative for Hepatitis B and C.
“Allen put hundreds of innocent people at risk and caused them enormous fear and anxiety,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer. “His prosecution and sentence should send a chilling message to any medical professional who abuses his or her position of trust: You will go to federal prison for a long time.”
“Americans must be confident that they are getting safe, effective, pure and potent prescription drugs,” said Spencer E. Morrison, Acting Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ Kansas City Field Office. “Our office will continue to pursue and bring to justice those who present a risk to the public’s health by tampering with drug products.”
“This case is an example of the scope of the prescription drug and opioid abuse epidemic, and specifically how it can affect our Colorado community” stated Barbra Roach, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Denver Field Division. “This is an especially serious incident in that a medical professional, in a position of trust, abused that trust and in so doing put the community at large at risk. Holding this individual responsible is essential, but we must also continue our efforts to educate the community and address the prescription drug problem in our nation.”
This case was investigated by the FDA OCI, the DEA, and the Englewood Police Department. The defendant was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime Pena.