Ex-nurse pleads guilty to stealing drugs from hospital

Posted Nov. 08, 2010, at 11:51 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:37 a.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A former nurse who stole about $8,000 worth of drugs from a former employer, Mayo Regional Hospital, from 2008 to 2009 admitted her guilt Monday in Piscataquis County Superior Court.

Paula A. Thorne, 44, of Exeter pleaded guilty before Justice William Anderson to Class C theft. Her sentencing was continued.

Thorne, a Penobscot Indian, was to have been the subject of a documentary about her success as a nurse before the investigation, according to a hospital official.

Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy has recommended that Thorne be sentenced to two years in prison with all but 90 days suspended and that she be placed on probation for two years. He also said restitution is a “significant issue” since the drugs were valued at $8,000 and the hospital spent $14,000 working on the investigation.

That investigation was launched when the hospital’s pharmacy director discovered that he was ordering a greater quantity of certain drugs than usual. He suspected that the drugs were being diverted. Almy said in the courtroom Monday that the investigation showed that Thorne was taking the drugs, among them hydromorphone, a narcotic, but was not administering them to the patients.

A search warrant was executed at her home, where a large quantity of drugs that had been stolen from the hospital was seized, Almy said.

Thorne’s attorney, Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor, said Monday that Thorne had never failed to give her patients their drugs, but she took liberties with the excess drugs. None of the drugs were sold; rather, Silverstein said Thorne injected them into her body to dull pain from a previous injury.

Silverstein said Thorne already had taken appropriate steps to stop the drug use and theft when the hospital authorities got involved. He said she is now drug-free.

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