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Press Release

Registered Nurse Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison for Tampering With and Stealing Painkillers from Detroit Hospital

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

DETROIT - A registered nurse was sentenced today to four years in prison after having pleaded guilty to tampering with vials and syringes of a liquid painkiller at the Detroit hospital where she worked, announced United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison. 

Joining Ison in the announcement was Ronne Malham, Special Agent in Charge of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Office of Criminal Investigations, Chicago Field Office. 

Mary Cheatham, 42, of Ypsilanti, Michigan, was sentenced by United States District Judge Mark Goldsmith. 

According to court records, in 2020, Cheatham was employed as a licensed registered nurse at a local hospital in Detroit.  Cheatham admitted she tampered with vials and syringes containing the painkiller hydromorphone, which she knew were intended to be administered to patients for the purpose of pain relief in the critical care unit of the hospital. She removed the hydromorphone from the vials and syringes, replaced the hydromorphone with saline solution, and returned the adulterated containers knowing they could be administered to patients at the hospital. In total, Cheatham stole 116 vials and syringes of hydromorphone, which she then used on herself.

“Patients in a hospital should be able to rely on receiving their needed medications,” said U.S. Attorney Ison.  “We will not hesitate to prosecute health care workers who steal drugs and put patients at serious risk of harm.”

The investigation was conducted by the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Regina R. McCullough.

Updated May 2, 2023

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