Boulder Nurse Indicted For Tampering With a Consumer Product and Creating a Counterfeit Controlled Substance

DENVER (LAWFUEL) – Ashton Paul Daigle, age 27, of Lafayette, Colorado, was arrested without incident last night by Special Agents with the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, based on a sealed Indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Denver yesterday. Daigle faces 108 counts of tampering with a consumer product, and 67 counts of creating a counterfeit controlled substance. The charges stem from when Daigle was a surgical nurse at Boulder Community Hospital. Daigle appeared in U.S. District Court in Denver where he was advised of the charges pending against him.

According to the indictment, between September 24, 2008, and October 24, 2008, Daigle, on at least 108 occasions, accessed a Pyxis machine to obtain Fentanyl, a strong narcotic prescription medication. A Pyxis machine is an automatic drug dispensing machine that tracks every time and every person that accesses it. The indictment alleges that Daigle accessed the pain medicine regularly, sometimes as much as 25 times in one day. The Fentanyl Daigle allegedly accessed was meant for surgical patients. According to the hospital, it is not yet known the exact number of patients who were affected by the drug diversion, but as many as 350 patients had the potential to not receive the prescribed Fentanyl during surgery. The hospital began investigating this case when anesthesiologists noticed surgical patients reacting as if they had not received adequate painkilling drugs.

However, according to the hospital, any patient showing signs of discomfort would have received additional painkiller medicine since all surgical patients are continuously monitored by anesthesiologists who are constantly adjusting the level of pain medication. The Surgery Department at the main hospital was the only area involved in this incident.

The indictment alleges that Daigle accessed the narcotic drug with reckless disregard, placing people in danger of bodily injury, with extreme indifference to such risk. Daigle allegedly tampered with the Fentanyl, a consumer product for purposes of the Indictment, by removing the flip-top safety seal of the vial. The indictment also alleges that during the same time period, he knowingly and intentionally created a counterfeit substance, a sterile saline solution, that falsely purported to be Fentanyl.

If convicted Daigle faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the 108 counts of tampering with a consumer product. If serious bodily injury occurred under this criminal statute, the defendant will face not more than 20 years imprisonment per count. Daigle also faces 67 counts of creating a counterfeit controlled substance, which carries a penalty of not more than 20 years in federal prison, and a fine of up to $250,000. If death or serious bodily injury occurred under this criminal statute, the defendant faces not less than 20 years in federal prison, and up to life, as well as a $1,000,000 fine.

“Stealing a patient’s medicine to feed a drug addiction – how low can you go?” said United States Attorney Troy Eid.

“The FDA Office of Criminal Investigations considers this illegal conduct very serious and is fully committed to investigating and supporting the prosecution of those who may endanger the public health with tainted products,” said Stephen Holt, Special Agent in Charge of the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, Kansas City Field Office. “We continue to look forward to working with our law enforcement partners and commend the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado for their diligence.”

“The Boulder District Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with Boulder Police Department, have reviewed the facts and circumstances of this case and consulted with members of the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy. “All parties are in agreement that this case can be most effectively prosecuted at the federal level. The Boulder DA’s Office will continue to offer any assistance if necessary.”

This case was investigated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Criminal Investigations, the Boulder Police Department, and the Boulder District Attorney’s Office.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime Pena.

The charges are only allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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