Central Illinois nurse who stole morphine from hospice patients faces prison time

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A nurse who pleaded guilty to stealing morphine from hospice patients at a central Illinois nursing home has been sentenced to six years in federal prison.

Kandis Mills, 47, of Tuscola, must report to the federal Bureau of Prisons on May 25, the United State’s Attorney’s Office in Springfield said in a news release.

Mills pleaded guilty in 2018 to two counts of a federal charge of tampering with consumer products. She was sentenced on Friday.

Mills was working at Illini Heritage Rehab & Health Care in Champaign that year when, according to prosecutors, an internal audit revealed that a bottle of morphine and nine tablets of opioid medication were missing.

A few days later, a nurse at the facility noticed that a patient’s morphine bottle appeared to have been tampered with. Other nurses reported that Mills “seemed lethargic, was slurring her words, and staring into space,” according to the release.

When she was questioned by investigators, Mills admitted to stealing and using the morphine herself, consuming it infrequently at first before doing so every day. She said that she had poured tap water into the morphine bottle to hide what she had done. But staff at the facility noticed that the patients from whom Mills had stolen morphine had “experienced difficulty with pain management near the end of their lives.”

“This case shows both the devastating harm caused by opioid addiction to include almost unforgivable collateral damage inflicted on our most vulnerable citizens,” Acting U.S. Attorney Douglas J. Quivey said in a statement.

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