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Press Release

University Hospital Nurse Arrested Following Grand Jury Indictment for Illegally Obtaining and Tampering with Fentanyl and Hydomorphone

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Colorado
Defendant also made false statements to FDA Office of Criminal Investigations special agent

DENVER – Kacye Unruh, age 30, of Aurora, Colorado, a former nurse at University of Colorado Hospital, was arrested yesterday following the return of a federal grand jury indictment charging her with crimes related to taking vials containing controlled substances, and then replacing said vials with tampered material, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA OCI) announced.  Unruh made her initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge this afternoon, where she was advised of her rights and the charges pending against her.  She is due back in court on November 9, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. for arraignment and detention hearing.  Pending that hearing, Unruh will remain in federal custody.

According to the indictment, from June 29, 2016 through July 12, 2016, Unruh, with reckless disregard for the risk to others of placing others in danger of bodily injury, tampered with and attempted to tamper with vials containing Schedule II Controlled Substances.  She also allegedly knowingly and intentionally obtained and attempted to obtain those same controlled substances by deception.  Specifically, the defendant allegedly removed vials containing Fentanyl or Hydromorphone from the hospital’s dialysis area.  She then replaced the vials with other substances to conceal her conduct. 

In addition to illegally obtaining the controlled substances and tampering with their containers, Unruh allegedly made four false statements to a special agent with FDA OCI.  Two of the false statements involved her work at a medical facility in Oklahoma.  She was asked if she diverted drugs at the medical facility where she worked in Oklahoma.  She said “no” when in fact she had diverted drugs there.  She also was asked if she failed a drug test in Oklahoma.  She said no when in fact she had failed a drug test there.  Finally, she allegedly lied twice about the vials that contained the controlled substances.  She said she replaced the narcotics with sterile saline, when in fact she replaced the contents with material other than sterile saline.  She also said she had not cross-contaminated material when in fact she had.

If convicted of Tampering with a Consumer Product, the defendant faces not more than 10 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine per count, for each of the 14 counts.  If convicted of Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Deceit or Subterfuge, the defendant faces not more than 4 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine per count, for each of those 14 counts.  And if convicted of making a False Statement, the defendant faces not more than 5 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine.

This case was investigated by the FDA OCI.  The defendant is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime Pena.

The charges contained in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. 

Updated November 4, 2016

Prescription Drugs