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Press Release

Former Nurse At Wilkes-Barre Veterans Administration Medical Center Charged Federally With Reckless Endangerment

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

SCRANTON – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Richard Pieri, age 59, Drums, Pennsylvania, a former registered nurse with the Wilkes-Barre Veterans Administration Medical Center, was charged with reckless endangerment in a criminal complaint filed with the U.S. District Court in Scranton.

According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, on February 4, 2016, Pieri allegedly committed a violation of Pennsylvania law by placing a patient at the medical center in danger of death or serious bodily injury when Pieri participated in a surgical procedure while under the influence of alcohol. Under the Federal Assimilated Crimes Act, violations of state law can be prosecuted in the federal system if the alleged offense takes place in areas within federal jurisdiction.  The medical center is a federal facility.

The case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Police. Prosecution is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Todd K. Hinkley.  The matter arose initially out of an investigation by the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office. 

Pieri is no longer employed at the medical center.

Criminal complaints, like indictments, are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

The maximum penalty for the offense under federal law is 2 years, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $5,000 fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.


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Updated April 15, 2016