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Registered nurse charged in drug thefts at Samaritan

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A registered nurse admitted to state police Tuesday that he has been stealing drugs at Samaritan Medical Center to satisfy his dependence on opiates and was using them while on the job, according to court documents.

John F. Murphy, 40, of 106 LaFargeville Road, Theresa, was arrested by state police and the state Department of Health Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement on felony charges of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and first-degree falsifying business records. LeRay Town Justice John W. Hallett sent him to the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building, setting bail at $1,000. Mr. Murphy’s bail was posted for his release Wednesday morning. His case was transferred to Watertown City Court, but he likely awaits grand jury action.

Police charge that on Sunday afternoon, Mr. Murphy made a false entry into an automated drug dispensing system in the emergency room without a valid physician’s order to obtain a dosage of the narcotic Dilaudid, which is a brand name of the painkiller hydromorphone. According to documents presented in court, Mr. Murphy admitted that he has been diverting the drug for his personal use for about six months because he needs help for an opiate dependence.

He estimated that he has been taking two to six dosages per shift for self-administration, “while on duty,” the court papers indicate.

Mr. Murphy also told investigators that he has contacted the New York State Nurses Association Statewide Peer Assistance for Nurses program to seek help.

He is the second nurse employed at the hospital to be charged this month in narcotics investigations. Heather L. Carr, 28, Watertown, awaits prosecution on allegations that she created fraudulent prescriptions at the hospital for the purpose of purchasing drugs to satisfy her dependence upon Vicodin.

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