News Release
May 15, 2009
Contact: Jodie Underwood
Number: (206) 553-5443

Seattle Nurse Pleads Guilty to Unlawful Theft and
Diversion of Controlled Substances

MAY 15--(Seattle) – DEA Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Arnold R. Moorin and the United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Jeffrey Sullivan, announced that Rachel Nezat, 35, of Seattle, Washington, appeared yesterday in federal district court and entered a guilty plea to the felony offense of acquiring a controlled substance by misrepresentation, deception, and subterfuge, in violation of federal law. This offense is punishable by up to four years in prison and a $250,000 fine. As part of her guilty plea, Nezat agreed to repay restitution to Swedish Hospital for the value of the drugs taken.

Court documents indicate that during 2008, continuing through September 8, 2008, Nezat worked as a registered nurse (RN) at Swedish Hospital in Seattle, Washington. On repeated occasions during August and September 2008, Nezat accessed quantities of hydromorphone (commonly marketed as Dilaudid), a Schedule II controlled substance, from the hospital supply, identified patients to whom such drugs were being administered, and thereafter diverted the drugs to her own unauthorized use, by taking the drug herself. In order to conceal her ongoing theft, Nezat falsified hospital records. Hydromorphone is a highly addictive narcotic opiate. A record audit at Swedish Hospital revealed Nezat unlawfully removed and diverted to her own use more than 150 vials of hydromorphone during the period of her employment.

In September 2008, the diversion was uncovered. On September 8, 2008, Nezat submitted to a drug test by Swedish Hospital and tested positive for high levels of hydromorphone. She was fired the same day.

Following her termination at Swedish, Nezat obtained employment as a registered nurse (RN) at Highline West Seattle Mental Health Hospital (Highline Hospital) in Seattle, Washington. While there, she removed an official prescription script from Highline Hospital and forged that script using the name of a Highline Hospital treating physician, authorizing Nezat to receive 30 tablets of oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance. On December 13, 2008, Nezat presented the forged script at a Bartell Drugstore in Seattle, and received the drugs. Nezat was fired by Highline Hospital.

Nezat is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge James L. Robart on August 3, 2009. While awaiting sentencing, Nezat was ordered to submit to drug testing and treatment, and forbidden from engaging in any employment which allows her access to controlled substances.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and is part of a continuing Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation focused upon the unlawful diversion of pharmaceutical controlled substances within the Western District of Washington and elsewhere.