November 27, 2019
Contact: Emily Murray
Phone Number: (571) 387-3545
Registered nurse sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for stealing opioids from elderly patient
OMAHA, Neb. – Registered Nurse La Vang, of Newport, Minnesota, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for stealing prescription pain medication from his patient between April and August, 2018, as announced November 27, by United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald.
“Temptation and addiction plague all professions,” said U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Omaha Division Diversion Program Manager William Stockmann. “A nurse taking advantage of those in need of home healthcare and medication is unbecoming and does significant harm to our communities. DEA continues to work with partners to identify individuals diverting medication and will prosecute them to the full extent of the law.”
According to the defendant’s guilty plea delivered May 28, 2019, and documents filed in court, in April 2018, Vang was employed with Lifesprk Home Care. Vang was assigned to work as a home healthcare nurse for an elderly woman in her 80’s who was recovering from multiple surgeries and prescribed controlled substance medication for her pain. Between April 2018 and August 2018, Vang fraudulently obtained oxycodone and hydrocodone from the patient and replaced her pain medication with similar-looking loratadine and acetaminophen tablets. During this time, the victim’s health declined quickly. In July 2018, when the victim’s husband contacted Lifesprk to raise concerns, he learned that the period of care provided by the company ended on May 1, 2018, and that Vang was no longer employed by Lifesprk, even though he had continued to visit the victim under the auspices of being a Lifesprk employee.
“As a registered nurse, Mr. Vang abused his position of trust and caused harm to a vulnerable victim only to feed his own addiction,” said U.S. Attorney MacDonald. “This sentence, which is an upward departure from the sentencing guideline range, is appropriate for this defendant’s conduct.”
This case was the result of an investigation conducted by the DEA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations and the Columbia Heights Police Department with assistance from the Anoka County Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan H. Nelson prosecuted the case.