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Mason City nurse sentenced to three years in prison for stealing pain medication from patients


This news story was published on February 14, 2019.
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Federal courthouse, Northern District of Iowa in Cedar Rapids

CEDAR RAPIDS – An Iowa nurse who stole pain medications from his patients and created false medical records to cover up his thefts was sentenced February 13, 2019, to three years in federal prison.

James Allen Moorehead, age 58, from Mason City, Iowa, received the prison term after an August 13, 2018 guilty plea to one count of acquiring a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception, and subterfuge, one count of false statements relating to health care matters, and one count of aggravated identity theft.

In a plea agreement, Moorehead admitted that he was employed at Franklin General Hospital in Hampton, Iowa, as a registered nurse in 2016 and 2017. During this employment, he used patient identities to get controlled substances by accessing their prescribed medication in the hospital’s system and diverting those pain pills to himself. He specifically stole pills containing hydrocodone. Moorehead concealed his scheme by making false entries in medical records that the medications were actually administered to the patients. He would also give his patients Tylenol instead of their prescribed pain medication. Multiple patients reported increased pain during Moorehead’s shifts.

Moorehead had previously surrendered his nursing license under a 2008 Iowa Board of Nursing agreement, after having been terminated from North Iowa Mercy Health Center and Genesis Health Center for stealing opioids. The Iowa Board of Nursing reinstated Moorehead’s nursing license in June 2011, and he began working at Franklin General Hospital in March 2012. He was terminated from that job in March 2017.

Moorehead was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge Linda R. Reade. At Moorehead’s sentencing, Judge Reade called his crimes “outrageous” and found the impact upon his victims to be “significant.” Judge Reade noted that Moorehead had received a second chance from the Iowa Board of Nursing but had reengaged in the same criminal conduct to the detriment of vulnerable people in his care.

Moorehead was sentenced to 36 months’ imprisonment and fined $20,000. He must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system. Judge Reade also found Moorehead lied on a court form, under oath, in order to obtain court-appointed counsel, by failing to disclose assets, including bonds and an IRA. Judge Reade ordered Moorehead’s lawyer to itemize all of the lawyer’s costs in defending Moorhead and indicated the Court would order Moorehead to repay all of those costs to the Court at a later date.

Moorehead was released on the bond previously set and is to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on a date yet to be set.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Lyndie M. Freeman and Tim Vavricek and investigated by the Iowa Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

 

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4 Responses to Mason City nurse sentenced to three years in prison for stealing pain medication from patients

  1. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 16, 2019 at 7:27 am

    Courtesy of our state and federal government who find it acceptable that tobacco is legal and opioid medication is legal. Because death and addiction for profit do not bother the American government. Meth is a schedule two drug while marijuana is schedule one. The drug co panties and the pusher Drs of this country have gifted us a heroin epidemic. Pretty Damn stupid. MaybE if anyone actually cared about people this poor women wouldn’t have become a junkie piece of shit that stole from elderly people like a real asshole.

  2. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 15, 2019 at 9:10 am

    No parole in Federal system

  3. Avatar

    Yep Reply Report comment

    February 15, 2019 at 6:45 am

    Yes, he is getting off easy, will probably do 1 1/2 years. He has done this multiple times before at multiple facilities, including 2 in Mason City.

  4. Avatar

    An Aquaintance Reply Report comment

    February 15, 2019 at 4:57 am

    Moorehead is getting off easy. He’s always been a no good!