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Former hospice nurse pleads to stealing meds

By JOSH COTTON

jcotton@timesobserver.com

A former hospice nurse has pleaded guilty to charges from allegations that she filled prescriptions for patients and then stole the substances.

Michele L. Wills, 56, Warren, entered the plea before Judge Gregory Hammond on Thursday. Online court records show she pleaded to charges of acquiring or obtaining possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation — a felony — as well as misdemeanor theft by deception.

Charges were initially filed in March by the state’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation under the Office of the Attorney General.

The substances alleged were morphine, ritalin and oxycodone.

Investigators detail in the affidavit of probable cause that they were contacted by staff at Hospice of Warren County on Aug. 24, 2020. Hospice reported that “a registered nurse named Michelle Wills was employed with (the) agency until last month when they had conducted an internal investigation into her suspected drug diversion and had ultimately terminated Wills from her employment after a positive drug test.”

The internal investigation found that Wills “had filled three prescriptions for patients that were not necessary and that she had kept the controlled substances or they believed Wills kept and used the controlled substances based on a drug test Wills submitted to.”

Hospice staff stated that the internal investigation revealed that none of the patients involved were harmed by Wills’ alleged conduct.

Investigators along with the Department of State and the Department of Health subsequently kicked off an investigation, obtaining “limited” medical records.

“During a review of these records” investigators say they “found and identified three incidents of diverted medication; in two of these incidents Wills had used emergency pre-authorized prescriptions to obtain medications and the other she refilled a patient’s medications when it was not necessary.”

The affidavit details each of those instances, alleging that the prescriptions were filled on July 15, July 22 and July 23. Total value of the medication was just under $100.

Five additional charges were not prosecuted in exchange for the plea.

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