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Massachusetts registered nurse sentenced to prison for tampering with morphine of dementia patients

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BOSTON – A Massachusetts registered nurse was sentenced in federal court for tampering with morphine prescribed to a nursing home resident in her care.

According to U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts, 43-year-old Gwen Rider of Northborough was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman to 52 months in prison and three years of supervised release. On March 8, 2022, Rider pleaded guilty to one count of tampering with a consumer product and one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and deception. 

Rider was a registered nurse employed by a Worcester County nursing home. From approximately 11:00 p.m. on Nov. 6, 2020, until 7:00 a.m. the following morning, Rider was on duty in a unit specializing in care for residents suffering from dementia. During her shift and while entrusted with the care of a resident suffering from dementia, Rider tampered with a bottle of morphine sulfate prescribed to the patient by removing some of the morphine and adding water to the remaining supply. Morphine sulfate is a Schedule II controlled substance under federal law. A nurse on a subsequent shift administered the adulterated morphine to a patient before the tampering was discovered.

United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Fernando McMillan, Special Agent in Charge of the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations; Margret R. Cooke, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health; and Phillip Coyne, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General made the announcement. Assistance was also provided by the Northborough Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen M. Noto of Rollins’ Criminal Division prosecuted the case. 

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