US Attorney: Bedford VA Nurse Tampered With Veterans' Morphine

morphine va arrest crop

The cap and morphine allegedly used by Noftle. (US Attorney's Office)

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — A woman has been charged with diluting and taking morphine meant for dying veterans while she worked at a VA Medical Center in Bedford.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling's office said Kathleen Noftle, 55, of Tewksbury, is charged with one count of obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception, and subterfuge, and one count of tampering with a consumer product.

She was arrested Wednesday morning.

According to the criminal complaint, in January 2017, Noftle diluted morphine meant for hospice patients at the veterans hospital with sink water, and took some of the drug herself.

Investigators found that, because Noftle had allegedly weakened the doses of morphine the dying patients received, one veteran had painful breathing difficulties in the final days of his life.

Read the full criminal complaint against Noftle here:

Noftle allegedly lied to VA investigators about diluting that morphine. Later, she admitted it, and also to putting some of the diluted morphine on a coworker's cart in an effort to try to draw attention from herself.

“I am responsible for putting diluted medication in the caps into the medcart," Noftle allegedly wrote to her Nurse Manager. "The 3rd day I placed one in another cart to try to get the focus off myself. I am sorry about this. I am a better person than the behavior I displayed leads you to believe."

It allegedly wasn't the first time Noftle got in trouble for tampering with drugs.

"The investigation also found that before working at the VA Medical Center in Bedford, Noftle had resigned from her position as a nurse at a different hospital following her failure to follow appropriate procedures when wasting narcotics on 60 occasions," Lelling's office said.

Lelling's office said Noftle could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the controlled substance charge, and up to four years and another $250,000 fine for the tampering charge.

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