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October 09, 2014
Contact: Public Information Officer
Number: 212-337-2906

Former Health Care Center Nursing Supervisor Pleads Guilty to Selling Fentanyl and Other Pain Killers

OCT 09 (BUFFALO, N.Y.) - U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul announced today that Catherine Vitello, 41, of Elma, N.Y., pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute and distribution of hydrocodone and fentanyl before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.

“As this case demonstrates, drug dealers come from all walks of life, and don’t always just stand on street corners,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “Here, the defendant abused her position as the head of a nursing program to obtain highly addictive drugs, and then distribute them illegally. Let all who hold such positions be aware they are not immune from prosecution if they also violate the law.”      

Assistant U.S. Attorney John M. Alsup, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant was the Director of Nursing at the St. Catherine Laboure Health Care Center in Buffalo. Vitello sold un-used prescription drugs from her office. These drugs were prescribed for patients but were no longer needed for various reasons, including the death of the patient in some cases. The prescription narcotics included hydrocodone and fentanyl. On at least two separate occasions in October 2013, the defendant sold hydrocodone and fentanyl to a confidential source working with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The plea is the culmination of an investigation on the part of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of James J. Hunt, Acting Special Agent in Charge, New York Field Office, the Lackawanna Police Department, under the direction of Chief James Michel, the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda, and the Erie County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of Sheriff Timothy Howard.

Sentencing is scheduled for January 23, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. before Judge Arcara.

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