Attorney General Bill McCollum News Release
April 28, 2008
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
Licensed Pensacola Nurse Arrested for Stealing Patient's Prescription Medication
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced the arrest of an Escambia County licensed practical nurse on charges that she stole narcotics prescribed to one of the patients under her care at University Hills Health and Rehabilitation Center in Pensacola. Elizabeth Hope was taken into custody by law enforcement officers with the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.
Hope, 55, was confronted about the thefts by the facility's director of nursing after a resident complained that he hadn't been getting his medication. Hope admitted she had stolen over 180 Methadone pills from the resident and had been addicted to a host of controlled substances. Using the pharmacy's records, staff was able to confirm that Hope had signed for the pills once they were delivered to the facility. The type of medication taken is classified by law as a schedule II drug which has a high potential for abuse and physical dependence.
Officials with the Department of Health moved swiftly to suspend Hope's nursing license after she chose not to enter a rehabilitation program. The case was referred for further investigation to the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit because the resident who should have received the medication was a Medicaid recipient and the Medicaid program was reimbursing the facility for the cost of the prescriptions Hope allegedly stole.
Hope was booked into the Escambia County Jail under one count of possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, or deception, and one count of theft. If convicted, she could receive up to five years and two months in prison and up to $5,500 in fines. The case will be prosecuted by the State Attorney's Office for the First Judicial Circuit.