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Nurse pleads guilty to diluting meds

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PIKEVILLE – A Salyersville woman pleaded guilty on Monday to a charge related to diluting medicine while working as a nurse.

On Monday, June 8, Kelsie Spencer, 24 years old, of Salyersville, appeared in a re-arraignment hearing, and in accordance with a plea deal with the United States Attorney, Spencer pleaded guilty to one of the two charges she was indicted on in April.

Within the plea deal, Spencer admitted to tampering with a consumer product in November 2018 while working at Paul B. Hall Regional Medical Center, having removed vials of butorphanol tartrate (Stadol), a Schedule IV controlled substance, from the drug supply area of the hospital for her own personal use. 

According to the plea agreement, she reportedly used a syringe to inject a saline solution back into these vials in an effort to conceal this criminal activity.

“By engaging in the foregoing acts, the Defendant acted with reckless disregard for the risk that another person would be placed in danger of death or bodily injury if health care personnel had attempted to utilize these drugs on a patient that might have actually needed them. Because of this, these circumstances manifested an extreme indifference to the aforementioned risk,” Assistant United States Attorney W. Samuel Dotson wrote in the agreement, signed by Spencer.

The statutory punishment for charge she pleaded guilty to on Monday is not more than 10 years imprisonment, a fine of not more than $250,000, and a term of supervised release of not more than three years. A mandatory special assessment of $100 applies.

The U.S. also recommended a decrease in Spencer’s offense level, given that all parties agreed that she did not intend to cause death or bodily injury to another, and that no such harm occurred. They also factored in that she gave timely notice of intent to plead guilty, as well.

With the plea deal, except for claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, Spencer waived her right to attack collaterally the guilty plea, conviction and sentence. She waived the right to appeal the guilty plea and conviction, but reserves the right to appeal the sentence. 

The court accepted Spencer’s guilty plea and found her guilty on count 1 of the indictment. The U.S. indicated that it will move to dismiss the remaining count 2 of the indictment at the time of sentencing, which accused her of making a materially false statement to a federal agent. The court accepted the plea agreement. 

Spencer is permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing, with the court imposing additional conditions of release, including home detention and regular drug testing, plus blocking employment with any access to controlled substances.

Sentencing for Spencer is scheduled for October 21, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. in Pikeville federal court before United States District Judge Robert E. Wier, who also oversaw Monday’s hearing. The jury trial previously scheduled has now been canceled.

Editor's Note: The indictment or charge of a person by a grand jury or otherwise is an accusation only and that person is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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Heather Oney