Iowa Nurse Who Took Pain Medications from Nursing Home Patients Pleads Guilty
An Iowa licensed professional nurse (LPN) who took pain medications from the residents of two nursing homes in 2016 and 2018 pled guilty today in federal court in Cedar Rapids.
Lacey Staveley, age 35, from Evansdale, Iowa, was convicted of one count of acquiring a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception, or subterfuge, and one count of false statements relating to health care matters.
In a plea agreement, Staveley admitted that, in November 2016, while employed at the Cedar Falls Health Care Center, a nursing home in Cedar Falls, Iowa, she used her patients’ identities to obtain controlled substances, specifically pills containing hydrocodone, by accessing her patients’ prescribed medications and diverting those pain pills to herself. Staveley’s victims were each long-term residents of the nursing home who had chronic pain, and they were both on Medicare at the time. To cover up her scheme, Staveley destroyed an original medication log, placed it in a trash can, and replaced the log with a false medication log. When the nursing home discovered her theft, Staveley provided the nursing home with a fake urine sample that actually consisted of toilet water. Because the sample obviously had flecks of toilet paper in it and no urine color, the nursing home obtained an actual urine sample from Staveley. This second test was positive for opiates, marijuana, and hydrocodone. The nursing home terminated Staveley’s employment.
Staveley also admitted in her plea agreement that, in 2018, she was again working as a LPN for another nursing home in the Cedar Valley, this time Harmony House in Waterloo, Iowa. Staveley did not disclose her prior employment at the Cedar Falls Health Care Center to Harmony House. Then, in January 2018, Staveley took two oxycodone pills from a patient’s medication stocks and replaced the pills in the original blister pack with an anti-psychotic drug that did not provide relief from pain. This patient complained of pain constantly and complained of pain after he did not receive all of his medication. Staveley also admitted that she took four narcotic pills, containing Vimpat, from another nursing home patient and replaced those pills with an anti-seizure drug that had a similar shape and color. This second patient at Harmony House was non-verbal and could not complain of pain. Harmony House also terminated Staveley’s employment.
This prosecution is part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations, which are part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine locations nationwide. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged over 3,700 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $14 billion.
Sentencing before United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams will be set after a presentence report is prepared. Staveley remains on bond previously set pending sentencing. Staveley faces a possible maximum sentence of 9 years’ imprisonment, a $500,000 fine, and three years of supervised release following any imprisonment.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tim Vavricek and was investigated by the Iowa Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
The case file number is 18-CR-2031.
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