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Press Release

Registered Nurse Sentenced To 18 Months In Federal Prison For Stealing Opioids From Elderly Patient

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

United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald today announced the sentencing of LA VANG, 27, to 18 months in prison for stealing prescription pain medication from his patient. VANG, who pleaded guilty on May 28, 2019, was sentenced on November 26, 2019, before Judge Nancy E. Brasel in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“As a registered nurse, Mr. Vang abused his position of trust and caused harm to a vulnerable victim only to feed his own addiction. This sentence, which is an upward departure from the sentencing guideline range, is appropriate for this defendant’s conduct,” said United States Attorney Erica MacDonald.

“Patients and their families rely on the knowledge that they will receive FDA-approved medications to manage their pain,” said Special Agent in Charge William P. Conway, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, Chicago Field Office. “We will continue to pursue and bring to justice healthcare professionals who put their patients’ health at risk by tampering with their pain medications.”

“Temptation and addiction plague all professions,” U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Omaha Division Diversion Program Manager William Stockmann said. “A nurse taking advantage of those in need of home healthcare and medication is unbecoming and does significant harm to our communities. DEA continues to work with partners to identify individuals diverting medication and will prosecute them to the full extent of the law.”

According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, in April 2018, VANG, who was a registered nurse employed with Lifesprk Home Care, was assigned to work as a home healthcare nurse for an elderly woman in her 80’s who was recovering from multiple surgeries and prescribed controlled substance medication for her pain. Between April 2018 and August 2018, VANG fraudulently obtained from the patient oxycodone and hydrocodone by replacing her pain medication with similar-looking loratadine and acetaminophen tablets. During this time period the victim’s health declined precipitously. In July 2018, when the victim’s husband contacted Lifesprk to raise concerns, he learned that the period of care provided by the company ended on May 1, 2018, and that VANG was no longer employed by LifeSprk even though he had continued to visit the victim under the auspices of being a LifeSprk employee.

According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, following a report made by the victim’s family, law enforcement opened an investigation. On August 2, 2018, following VANG’s visit to the victim’s home, police conducted a traffic stop on VANG’s vehicle and found several empty prescription bottles for oxycodone in the victim’s name dated between April and June of 2018, as well as empty bottles of acetaminophen and Walgreen’s brand allergy medication (loratadine).

This case was the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Office of Criminal Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Columbia Heights Police Department, with assistance from the Anoka County Attorney’s Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan H. Nelson prosecuted the case.


Defendant Information:


Newport, Minn.


  • Obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, 1 count


  • 18 months in prison
  • One year of supervised release





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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600


Updated November 27, 2019

Prescription Drugs
Elder Justice