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Feds: Illinois Nurse Stole Morphine from Patients

A nurse at a suburban Chicago hospital is in deep trouble after the feds accused her of tampering with patients’ morphine. According to federal prosecutors, the woman removed some of the morphine from the bottle and diluted it with another liquid, essentially ensuring that patients would get significantly less morphine than their doctors had ordered. She is facing two counts of tampering with a consumer product. 

Tampering With a Consumer Product

While this may not sound like a serious offense, it is the type of crime that is punished in accord with domestic terrorism. Why? Because ever since the first Batman movie with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson as the Joker, Americans have been unduly concerned that random people will contaminate consumer products in order to create fear and panic in the public. Meanwhile, this almost never happens. In one case, however, a wife killed her own husband with contaminated aspirin and then attempted to hide her crime by contaminating more aspirin. Essentially, she tried to cast blame on a random terrorist poisoning American products.

Since the U.S. government considers such acts terrorism, the penalties for such crimes can be quite high. If someone dies as a result of the tampering, you can expect to spend the rest of your life behind bars. If only an attempt is made, then the maximum penalty is ten years in federal prison.

The Danger of Bodily Injury or Death

To be prosecutable under the 18 U.S. Code § 1365 the government need only show that the defendant displayed a reckless disregard for the safety of others and extreme indifference to the potential suffering she caused. But further, there was a risk of bodily injury or death. In this case, depriving patients of their prescribed morphine would increase their pain and discomfort. If the government can prove this resulted in serious bodily injury, she could be sentenced to up to 20 years. It is unclear whether anyone was severely injured due to the tampering. That generally requires permanent bodily injury or the risk of death. Nonetheless, two counts of consumer product tampering can add up to 20 years behind bars. She was likely charged with these crimes because the potential penalty is higher than similar theft charges related to hospital drugs. They were not able to prove that the woman was selling the morphine. Hence why the charges are only for tampering. You will note, however, that these are very serious charges.

Legal advice: Do Not Tamper With Consumer Products

There is a 100% chance that the U.S. government will take a crime of consumer product tampering extremely serious as it is a terrorism-adjacent crime that causes consumer mistrust of the market, fear and panic, and generally undermines the public’s confidence in law enforcement. For all of these reasons, consumer product tampering will land you in federal prison for a long time. So, avoiding this type of crime is generally in the best interests of all Americans.

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today

David Freidberg represents the interests of those charged with federal crimes in the Chicago area. Call today at (312) 560-7100 to discuss your situation in more detail and we can begin preparing your defense immediately. 

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