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Press Release

Former Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist at Ann Arbor VA Hospital Arraigned on Drug Charges

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

A former certified registered nurse anesthetist was arraigned today on an Indictment charging her with fraudulently obtaining controlled substances, including several opioids, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider announced today.

Schneider was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Gregg Hirstein of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General and Special Agent in Charge Keith W. Martin of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Detroit Field Division.

Charged in the indictment is Elizabeth A. Prophitt, CRNA, 38, of Saline, who previously worked at the VA Hospital in Ann Arbor.

As alleged in the Indictment, Prophitt utilized her position as a surgical nurse aesthesis to retrieved vials of controlled substance medications from hospital dispensing machines for purported use on patients.  The purpose of obtaining these controlled substances was not for the legitimate treatment of patients, but rather for her own personal consumption and/or drug diversion. 

It is alleged that Prophitt would retrieve medications on days when she was unscheduled to work or after normal working hours; retrieve medications for patients that were not on her surgery service; retrieve medications for surgeries that had been cancelled or had already been completed; retrieve more medication than required for a patient’s surgery and keep the unused portions; and falsify “waste” records to keep any unused medication instead of properly returning or disposing of the controlled substances.  Prophitt exploited her knowledge of her employer’s internal controls to obtain these controlled substances, which would go unnoticed. From July 2018 to February 2019, she accessed more than 2200 vials of controlled substances such as fentanyl, hydromorphone, morphine and midazolam, which were believed to be obtained by fraud, misrepresentation and deceit.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Each defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

If convicted of a drug charges alleged in the Indictment, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of imprisonment of four years for each count of the Indictment, and a maximum fine of $250,000.

The case is being investigated by the VA Office of Inspector General and the DEA; and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Brandy R. McMillion.  McMillion serves as the District’s Opioid Fraud Abuse and Detection Prosecutor as well as the Deputy-Chief of the Health Care Fraud Unit.  The Opioid Fraud Abuse and Detection Unit is a Department of Justice initiative designating twelve special prosecutors across the country to focus on prosecuting medical professionals that are contributing to the nation’s opioid crisis. 

Updated December 19, 2019