A supervising nurse at the Campbell Hall Rehabilitation Center has been arrested for stealing narcotics from the emergency supply cabinet at the nursing home.
Terri Stephens-Traverse was the supervising nurse at the Campbell Hall Rehabilitation Center in early 2013 when she began stealing oxycodone pills. The nursing home is located in Orange County in the Town of Hamptonburgh. As supervising nurse, Stephens-Traverse had unfettered access to the nursing home’s emergency pain medication supply. The nursing home kept a small supply of various medications for its elderly residents for use in emergencies and to help fill new pain medication prescriptions. Stephens-Traverse pilfered a large quantity of pills for personal use.
As supervising nurse, Stephens-Traverse was tasked with maintaining records regarding access to this supply. Stephens-Traverse was also assigned to monitoring the inflow and outflow of all medications. To avoid being caught, Stephens-Traverse lied on the log book and forged signatures of other nurses. Thus, the records showed that medications were administered by other nurses to elderly residents when, in fact, Stephens-Traverse took these pills for herself.
The Medicaid Fraud Unit of the New York State Office of the Attorney General investigated this case and arrested Stephens-Traverse in conjunction with the theft of the narcotics. According to Attorney General Schneiderman, “Resident safety is jeopardized when those responsible for their care are under the influence of dangerous narcotics. Opioid medications are highly addictive, and they must be closely monitored. My office will continue to prosecute unscrupulous medical professionals who steal patient medication and compromise the care they receive.”
Stephens-Traverse was arraigned in Hamptonburgh Town Justice Court before Judge Edward Souto. She was formally charged with Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, Forgery in the Third Degree, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree, and Petit Larceny. She was released on personal recognizance and is due back in court on May 27, 2015.
Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree is prosecutable under New York Penal Law 175.10. This crime is an “E” class felony, which is the lowest grade of felony. Under this law, a person is guilty when he or she intends to defraud others, either by intending to commit another crime or aiding or concealing the commission of the crime. Stephens-Traverse faces up to 4 years in prison if convicted of this crime. Forgery in the Third Degree is prosecutable under New York Penal Law 170.05. The crime is a misdemeanor and requires that the perpetrator intended to defraud, deceive or injury another when making a false statement on a document. Virtually any written document qualifies under this law, including computer data and identification cards. Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree is a misdemeanor prosecutable under New York Penal Law 220.03. This law simply criminalizes possession of illegal substances, and the prosecutor need only prove that the defendant unlawfully possessed the substance. Petit Larceny is akin to theft. It is a misdemeanor that requires the prosecutor prove only that the defendant stole someone else’s property. All misdemeanors are each punishable by up to one year in prison. Stephens-Traverse therefore faces up to 7 years cumulatively in prison if found guilty.
Elderly residents in nursing homes rely on access to crucial pain medication in order to cope with debilitating diseases and illnesses. When a nursing home worker violates state law and nursing home policy and pilfers pain medication for personal use, nursing home residents are deprived of these critical medications. However, even more alarming is the potential for a nurse at a nursing home to be working and caring for patients while under the influence of a highly addictive narcotic. The risk of negligence, recklessness, and even intentional wrongdoing increases tenfold. While a nurse is under the influence, he or she is unable to properly care for someone or respond to emergency situations. This increases the danger of a nursing home resident being injured or even dying at the hands of a nurse under the influence of a controlled substance.
If you believe a loved one has been abused in a nursing home, don’t hesitate to contact the New York nursing home abuse expert lawyers at Gallivan & Gallivan to discuss your claim today.