Southwest Virginia nurse convicted tampering with liquid morphine meant for elderly

ABINGDON, VA (WJHL) –  A southwest Virginia nurse faces 51 months in prison and a fine of up to a quarter of a million dollars for feeding her addiction to a powerful painkiller. The painkiller was meant for elderly nursing home patients.

The United States District Court of the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon reports, Christina Lovern Calloway, 40 of Radford, VA, pled guilty on Wednesday to tampering with a consumer product.

Prosecutors say while working as a nurse in a nursing home, Calloway diverted liquid morphine intended for patients.

Prosecutors say on more than one occasion, Calloway took some of the liquid morphine from the bottle and used it herself. They said she then used tap water to refill the bottle in an attempt to hide her crime.

The diluted morphine was then given to patients.

“This defendant undoubtedly inflicted suffering on helpless elderly nursing home residents to feed her addiction,” said Acting United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle. “We will aggressively prosecute defendants who callously abuse their positions of trust to victimize the most vulnerable members of our society.”

The case was investigated by the United States Food and Drug Administration’s office of Criminal Investigations and Virginia State Police.

“FDA oversees the U.S. supply of medicines to ensure that they are safe and effective, and those who knowingly tamper with medicines for patients put their health at risk,” said Mark S. McCormack, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ Metro Washington Field Office. “Our office will continue to pursue and bring to justice those who violate laws designed to protect the public health.”

A sentencing hearing for Calloway is scheduled for August 1, 2017 at 10:30 a.m.

She faces a sentence of 51 months in prison and a fine of $250,000.

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