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Missoula nurse sentenced for felony drug diversion

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Posted at 2:18 PM, Apr 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-27 10:21:56-04

MISSOULA - A Missoula nurse who admitted to diverting fentanyl and hydromorphone from Community Medical Center for her own use was sentenced Tuesday to two years of probation and fined $2,000, U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.

Mary Schmidt Monahan, 61, pleaded guilty in January to unlawfully obtaining controlled substances by fraud, deception, and subterfuge.

The government alleged in court documents that from July 2020 until about February 2021, Monahan — a nurse at Community Medical Center — diverted fentanyl and hydromorphone.

In January 2021, a coworker noticed Monahan acting suspiciously and observed Monahan with her back to a patient filling syringes with two drug vials. Monahan put something in her jacket pocket, pulled up her right arm sleeve to her elbow, stepped into the corner of the curtain, then returned and wiped her arm with an alcohol pad and raised it for about a minute. Shortly afterward, Monahan asked the coworker to witness her disposal of the medications Dilaudid and fentanyl.

In February 2021, another coworker saw Monahan doing something with her hands before placing a vial into her scrub’s pocket. The coworker noted that Monahan was acting in an anxious manner and reported the incident.

Monahan’s supervisors confronted her, and she admitted to stealing narcotics and using them. A search of Monahan’s bag revealed unmarked syringes, some of which were used, and some contained liquid, and wrappers from used alcohol swabs. Monahan provided a urine sample, which tested positive for fentanyl.

U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Karla E. Painter prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration with assistance from the Missoula Police Department.