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Nurse pleads guilty to morphine tampering

| December 8, 2021 1:00 AM

A Moses Lake nurse pleaded guilty Tuesday to tampering with morphine medication while working, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington.

Esther Rae Tuller, 40, made the change of plea and her sentencing was scheduled for March 17, 2022, in Spokane.

Between August 2019 and April 2020, Tuller was a nurse at Confluence Health Clinic in Moses Lake and used syringes to remove morphine from at least 17 vials and ingested it due to her opioid addiction, according to the release. She replaced the morphine with a saline solution, salt dissolved in water, and tried to glue the caps back onto the vials to make them look intact, the release stated. Before Tuller was apprehended, at least one patient was prescribed morphine and was rushed to the emergency room in pain after receiving saline solution, which was supposed to be morphine.

Tuller faces a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and up to three years of supervision after release.

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Diversion Group in Seattle and Federal Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations in Seattle investigated the case.

“Ms. Tuller’s reckless actions violated her oath as a medical professional, and undermined the trust and confidence of the public,” Frank A. Tarentino III, special agent in charge of DEA’s Seattle division, said in the release. “During this national opioid crisis, people are depending on health care and law enforcement professionals to keep our communities safe from anyone who seeks to exploit the system designed to provide care and treatment for those in need.”

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