Public Safety

Former Eastern Iowa nurse sentenced to over a year in prison for stealing patients' meds

15 months in federal prison

Department of Justice seal in the US Attorneys office at the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Department of Justice seal in the US Attorneys office at the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A former Iowa nurse who stole medications from her elderly patients at two Waterloo-area nursing homes has been sentenced to more than a year in federal prison.

Lacey Staveley, 36, of Evansdale, pleaded guilty in October in U.S. District Court to one count of acquiring a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception and subterfuge and one count of false statements relating to health care matters. She was sentenced last week.

Staveley also pleaded guilty May 2 to one count of contempt of court.

In a plea agreement, Staveley, a licensed practical nurse, admitted that while employed in November 2016 at a nursing home in Cedar Falls, she used her patients’ identities to get drugs. Staveley stole hydrocodone pills from her patients’ prescribed medications.

According to court documents, her victims were long-term residents who had chronic pain and were on Medicare. Staveley covered up her scheme by destroying an original medication log and replacing it with a fake one.

When the nursing home personnel discovered her thefts and asked for a urine sample to test, Staveley gave them a fake urine sample of toilet water, court documents show. The sample had pieces of toilet paper in it and no urine color. So the nursing home officials obtained an actual urine sample, which tested positive for marijuana and hydrocodone. She was fired. 

In January 2018, a nursing home in Waterloo, unaware of her prior employment, hired her as a nurse, according to court documents. At this nursing home, she took two oxycodone pills from a patient’s medication and replaced the pills with an antipsychotic drug that didn’t provide pain relief. The patient constantly complained of pain.

Staveley, in the plea, also admitted that she took four narcotic pills containing an anti-epileptic drug from another nursing home patient and replaced those pills with an anti-seizure drug. This patient was non-verbal and couldn’t complain about pain.

The second nursing home fired her after learning of her thefts, prosecutors said.

After being charged, Staveley violated the terms of her release pending trial more than 30 times, according to court documents. A judge revoked her release after she traveled to Tama County and burglarized her sister’s home, stealing her sister’s prescription drugs. Staveley’s sister had serious medical issues that required the prescriptions. 

U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams sentenced Staveley to 15 months in prison. He also ordered her to pay more than $500 in victim restitution. She must serve five years of supervised release following her prison term.

This prosecution was part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations, which are part of a joint initiative between the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to focus efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce anti-fraud laws around the country. The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine locations nationwide.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com