Public Safety

Former nurse convicted of stealing pain meds from patients

Faces up to 11 years in federal prison

CEDAR RAPIDS — A former nurse, who used patient identities to steal pain pills for himself while employed at Franklin General Hospital in Hampton, was convicted Monday in federal court.

James A. Moorehead, 58, of Mason City, pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court to one count of acquiring a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception, or subterfuge; one count of false statements relating to health care matters; and one count of aggravated identity theft.

A plea agreement shows Moorehead, while employed at Franklin General as a registered nurse in 2016 and 2017, admitted he used patient identities to obtain controlled substances, specifically pills containing hydrocodone, by diverting their prescribed medication to himself and giving the patients over the counter pain pills.

His scheme was concealed by falsifying medical records when he switched out their pain medications with Tylenol. Multiple patients complained of increased pain during Moorehead’s shifts, as a result of the nurse’s deception.

Moorehead previously surrendered his nursing license under a 2008 Iowa Board of Nursing agreement after being fired from North Iowa Mercy Health Center in Mason City and Genesis Health Center in Davenport for stealing opioids. Moorehead regained his nursing license in June 2011 and had been working at Franklin General since March 2012 until he was fired in March 2017.

He faces a mandatory minimum of two years and possibly up to 11 years in prison, a $750,000 fine, and five years on supervised release following any prison time.

Sentencing will be set after a presentence report is prepared. He remains free on bond, pending sentencing.

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