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Press Release

West Haven Woman Pleads Guilty to Diverting Narcotics from Dying VA Medical Center Patients

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Connecticut

Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Christopher Algieri, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Veteran Affairs, Office of the Inspector General, Northeast Field Office, announced that TARA SEVERINO, 58, of West Haven, pleaded guilty today in Hartford federal court to a charge of stemming from her diversion of narcotics from veterans under her care while she worked as a nurse at the West Haven VA Medical Center.

According to court documents and statements made in court, from January to July 2023, Severino was employed as a registered nurse with the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (the “VA”) in West Haven and was assigned to the VA’s Intensive Care Unit (“ICU”) for sick or dying patients.  While employed at the VA ICU, Severino ingested fentanyl, hydromorphone, and oxycodone intended for patients in her care.

In some instances, Severino ingested the “waste” of a substance, meaning she administered part of the substance to a patient and ingested the remaining portion not used by the patient.  In one instance, Severino repeatedly introduced fentanyl into the system of a braindead patient after claiming she observed him in pain and having a seizure.  She introduced fentanyl to this patient approximately 19 times over a nine-day period so that she could divert some for herself.

In other instances, Severino ingested doses of hydromorphone and fentanyl meant for dying veterans.  This affected treatment decisions made by other medical staff who believed that the patients had been receiving, and were unresponsive to, their prescribed narcotics.

In another instance, Severino volunteered to care for a patient not formally assigned to her, and diverted pain medication from him before he died.

In order to cover up her crimes, Severino misrepresented in VA medical records and tracking systems that the narcotics been properly administered to the patient or, in the case of excess narcotics, had been properly disposed of.

Severino pleaded guilty to obtaining controlled substances by fraud or subterfuge, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of four years.  She is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny on September 12.  She is released on a $25,000 bond pending sentencing.

If you or someone you know may have been victimized by the actions of the Tara Severino while she was employed at the VA, please contact Special Agent Abraham Raymond at (202) 262-2337 or

This matter is being investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of the Inspector General.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Margaret Donovan and Christopher Lembo.

Updated June 18, 2024

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