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Press Release

Cedar Rapids Nurse Sentenced in Drug Diversion and Tampering Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Stole Fentanyl from Outpatient Surgery Center in 2018 and 2019

A Cedar Rapids surgery center nurse, who diverted fentanyl to her own use at a local outpatient surgery center, was sentenced on January 21, 2022, to five years probation.  Sabrina Thalblum, age 52, from Cedar Rapids, received the sentence after a July 21, 2021, guilty plea to one count of acquiring a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception, and subterfuge, and one count of adulteration and misbranding with intent to defraud and mislead.

At her guilty plea and sentencing hearings, Thalblum admitted that, from about August 2018 to August 2019, she was an unlawful user of, and addicted to, fentanyl, a highly addictive opioid and controlled substance.  Thalblum abused her position as a registered nurse to gain access to fentanyl at her employer, a local surgery center, and divert it to her own use.  As a part of her scheme, Thalblum tampered with the vials of fentanyl.  Thalblum removed the caps from vials of fentanyl at the outpatient surgery center and then carefully punctured the vials with needles and drew out the fentanyl.  She then refilled the vials with saline to make the vials appear as if they still contained fentanyl.  Thalblum also carefully reglued the caps of the vials to make it appear as if the vials were undisturbed, when, in truth, these consumer products no longer contained their declared values of fentanyl.  In this way, the Thalblum made it appear as if the vials remained new, unopened, and filled with the controlled substance on their respective labels, that is, fentanyl, when, in truth, the Thalblum had diverted some or all of the fentanyl in the vials to herself.

Thalblum was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  Thalblum was sentenced to five years of probation and fined $10,000.  She also must forfeit her nursing license.  There is no parole in the federal system.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tim Vavricek and investigated by the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 20-CR-102.

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Updated January 24, 2022