Soledad prison nurse accused of diverting drugs


By VIRGINIA HENNESSEY

A state licensing board and the Attorney General’s Office have accused a vocational nurse of diverting pharmaceutical narcotics at a Soledad prison.

Albert Cox of Los Banos, who was terminated from the Correctional Training Facility in 2011, is accused of illegally obtaining morphine and codeine by falsifying patient and prison records. The action seeks the suspension or revocation of Cox’s license.

Cox, 56, denied the allegations, blaming any appearance of misconduct on sloppy record-keeping practices at the prison. He said it had been 18 months since he was interviewed by a state investigator and thought the matter was closed. And he vowed to fight the charges.

“If they start an investigation with me, this investigation will be more widespread,” he said. “From what I know of what went on at that prison, they’ll end up terminating two-thirds of the LVN staff at the prison.”

Cox is one of a number of nurses at the prison who are targets of a multi-level investigation by federal and state investigators.

He was one of the vocational nurses named in a letter nursing supervisors sent to prison CEO Gerald Ellis in 2010, expressing a vote of no confidence against Director of Nursing Angelia Britt.

Among other allegations, the nurses complained they had alerted Britt to possible drug diversions by Cox and his potential theft of narcotics-tracking sheets to cover his misdeeds. Her response, they claimed, was to assign two other vocational nurses to

“re-create” the narcotics sheets to mask the missing drugs in the event of an audit.

The state filed an accusation against Britt this week, alleging falsification of narcotic records and time sheets, among other things.

According to the letter of no confidence, another licensed vocational nurse assigned to the prison from a nursing registry was suspected of complicity when correctional officers found 60 narcotic pills in the cell of an inmate housed in administrative segregation, commonly known as “ad seg” or the hole.

Rather than cancel her registry contract, the letter states, Britt was lobbying for the woman to be hired as a regular state employee when correctional officers discovered 200 pills in the same inmate’s cell six months later.

Ellis, the prison chief, intervened and the woman was dismissed. She has not been criminally charged or disciplined by the state board.

The formal disciplinary action was filed Tuesday against Cox.

Continue Reading @ The Monterey Herald

 

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