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Press Release

Iowa Nurse Pleads Guilty to Stealing Fentanyl from Elderly Patients

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

An Iowa nurse who stole fentanyl from elderly patients pled guilty on November 21, 2022, in federal court in Sioux City.  Ryan William Thornton, age 27, from Clear Lake, Iowa, was convicted of acquiring fentanyl by misrepresentation, fraud, deception, and subterfuge.

In a plea agreement, Thornton admitted that he diverted liquid fentanyl, that was supposed to be dispensed to patients, for his own personal use by removing fentanyl from the patients’ IV pumps with a syringe. 

Sentencing before United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand will be set after a presentence report is prepared.  Thornton remains free on bond pending sentencing.  Thornton faces a possible maximum sentence of 4 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and 1 year of supervised release following any imprisonment.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ron Timmons and was investigated by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals Investigations Division Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Court file information at

The case file number is 22-3034.

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Updated November 22, 2022

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