LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - On Thursday, Lufkin Police officers arrested a 47-year-old former hospital nurse in regard to allegations that she was stealing prescription medications and then billing the meds to patients.
Tammy Jane Pope, of Lufkin, was booked into the Angelina County Jail on three second-degree felony fraudulent delivery of a controlled substance or prescription charges. She was released later Thursday after she posted a collective bail amount of $45,000.
"CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial is cooperating with the police investigation, and since this is an employee matter, we cannot offer details that could compromise the investigation," said Yana Ogletree, the public information officer for CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial. "However, we are conducting an internal investigation and are in the process of reimbursing patients who were affected. The employee in question was terminated January 16, 2015."
According to the arrest affidavit, a Lufkin Police officer spoke to the director of pharmacy for CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial Hospital in Lufkin on Jan. 15.
The pharmacy director told the officer that over an unknown amount of time, Pope had been stealing prescription medication from the hospital. According to the initial police report, the pharmacy director told the LPD officer that in October 2014, it was brought to her attention that patients were being billed for prescriptions they did not receive.
Over the course of an internal investigation, the hospital's administration discovered surveillance video that allegedly showed Pope "removing prescription pharmaceutical drugs and billing a patient falsely in order to keep the pharmaceutical drug."
The LPD detective that took over the case, obtained medical records including patient names, hospital room numbers, dates, and the type of medication charged to the room by Pope.
According to the affidavit, Pope made 45 separate charges to various patients where a total 76 milligrams, or 38 2-mg bottles, of injectable Hydromorohone was charged and taken. In addition, Pope also allegedly took morphine and Meperidine and charged those to patients as well.
In all of the cases found by the LPD detective, there was no doctor's order or documentation supporting the prescription medication doses that were pulled by Pope, the affidavit stated. Of the 109 unauthorized charges, 34 of them were charged to the patients' Medicare or Medicaid benefits. In addition, at least one of the instances, the patient wasn't even in the hospital at the time when he or she was charged for the prescription drug on Dec. 12, 2014, the affidavit stated.
On Jan. 22, the detective received a phone call from Pope. During the call, Pope explained that she had been a registered nurse at CHI St. Luke's Memorial for seven years before she was fired for taking uncharted prescription medications, the affidavit stated.
Pope allegedly told the detective that she hadn't been taking the prescription medications for the entire seven years and that there had been a crisis in her family. She also said that she had once been addicted to methamphetamine and earned her RN license after she got clean.
The affidavit stated that Pope also said that she took the prescription meds from a machine in the emergency room. She also allegedly said that she didn't falsify any patient's chart; she just took the drugs and used them off and on for about eight months.
“The defendant stated that she had a death in the family and could not cope, so she started taking the drugs,” the affidavit stated.
According to the affidavit, Pope fraudulently obtained the prescription drugs between Nov. 29, 2014 and Jan. 12, 2015.