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MADISON - A Rock County registered nurse accused of taking prescription drugs belonging to nursing home residents has been convicted of unlawfully possessing a Schedule II controlled substance and unlawfully possessing a Schedule II substance by a practitioner as a habitual criminal. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that Timothy B. Murphy, 44, Janesville, appeared in court on August 29, 2007, and entered guilty pleas to the two criminal charges brought by the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Murphy, who committed the acts while he was a nurse at Cedar Crest Nursing Home, 1702 South River Road, Janesville, is scheduled to be sentenced on November 16, 2007.
"Caregivers are in a position of trust and must uphold the highest standards of integrity," said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. "The Wisconsin Department of Justice, through its Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, will continue to investigate and prosecute cases where caregivers take advantage of their positions and commit criminal acts."
According to the Department of Justice (DOJ) criminal complaint, Murphy was employed as a registered nurse at the facility in January 2007. On January 19, 2007, a nurse who worked with Murphy at the facility reviewed the Individual Patient's Controlled Substance Record of a patient. She found that Murphy had made an entry in the record on January 17, 2007, indicating he had removed one dose of Demerol intended for the patient.
The co-worker remembered counting the Demerol syringes on January 17, 2007, and recalled no syringes were missing. The co-worker spoke to the patient and discovered that the patient had not received a Demerol injection in nearly two weeks. After talking to the patient, the co-worker went to find Murphy in his office. Murphy was not there, but the door to the office was open. The co-worker observed in Murphy's office a used vacutainer, syringe, tourniquet, empty packages for alcohol swabs, and a towel with blood on it. She reported this information to her supervisors.
On January, 20, 2007, the President/CEO of Cedar Crest, spoke with Murphy about what the co-worker had discovered. Murphy admitted taking the Demerol and injecting it into himself. He also admitted taking used Fentanyl patches, soaking them in saline solution to extract any remaining medication, and injecting himself with the solution.
Wisconsin's law makes it unlawful for any person to possess a Schedule II narcotic without a prescription. The Wisconsin statutes also forbid a practitioner from taking narcotics without a prescription for the practitioner's own personal use. Murphy is a "habitual criminal" under the state's habitual criminality penalty enhancer due to Murphy's 5 prior convictions in the last 3 years for similar offenses.
The defendant entered into a plea agreement with the state by which the state agrees to recommend a sentence of incarceration not to exceed 12 months on count one and an imposed and stayed sentence of 18 months incarceration on count two with two years probation to commence after Murphy has served his jail time in count one. Among the conditions of supervision, the state will recommend that the defendant not be allowed to work in a caregiver capacity or in any place where he may access drugs or medications. Plea agreements are not binding on Wisconsin courts. Sentencing is scheduled for November 16, 2007, before Rock County Circuit Court Judge James P. Daley.
The case was investigated by the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Eric DГfort.