Four Lehigh Valley Nurses Arrested for Stealing Pain Medications
November 25, 2009
Attorney General Tom Corbett identified the defendants as:
- Tracy Goetter, 48, 54 E. Station Ave., Coopersburg;
- Lisa Citrola, 48, 2094 Fieldstone Dive, Bethlehem;
- Christopher Evans, 31, 909 Barn View Lane, Breinigsville; and,
- Krista Lichtenberger, 25, 725 10th Ave., Bethlehem.
Goetter, a nurse in the Cardiac Cath Lab at Muhlenberg Hospital, allegedly diverted waste Fentanyl in an effort to make her own Fentanyl patches for personal use.
The charges, Goetter started diverting the drug waste during her last two weeks of work, in late spring 2009. According to hospital records, during the final weeks of Goetter's employment, 850 mcg of Fentanyl waste was recorded, but it is unclear how much of that was diverted for her personal use.
Corbett said that Citrola was also a nurse at Muhlenberg Hospital and worked in the emergency room.
According to the criminal complaint, Citrola allegedly diverted significant amounts of the powerful prescription drug Dilaudid for her personal use.
Corbett said that Citrola allegedly began diverting Dilaudid waste in August 2007. As her addiction grew, the waste was allegedly not enough to feed her addiction. The charges state that Citrola began signing out the drug in patients' names and used the drug for personal use.
According to the criminal complaint, in December 2008, Citrola started to inject herself at work in the bathroom. Corbett said that 195 mg of Dilaudid and 644 mg of Morphine were missing from the hospital during that time.
Corbett said that Evans was a nurse at the Cedar Crest Campus of Lehigh Valley Hospital where he allegedly diverted Fentanyl and Midazolam.
The charges state the Evans initially diverted the drugs once a week in May 2009, but increased to four or five times in June and then daily in July.
According to the criminal complaint, other employees witnessed Evans dispose of the drug waste, but it was later determined that this waste was saline.
Agents estimate that Evans diverted 7887.5 mcg of Fentanyl, which is equal to 78 vials and 47 mg of Midazolam.
Corbett said that Lichtenberger, an emergency room nurse at Muhlenberg Hospital, allegedly accessed a Pyxis machine on her day off to obtain prescription medications. A Pyxis machine is a type of vending machine nurses use to obtain medications for patients.
The charges state that Lichtenberger removed 750 mc of Fentanyl, 11 mg of Hydromorphone and 400 mg of Meperidine for her personal use.
"Our Bureau of Narcotics Investigation agents are very active in investigating medical professionals who are illegally using prescription pain medication," Corbett said. "It is a potentially dangerous situation if the person you trust with your medical care is under the influence of drugs."
Goetter, Citrola, Evans and Lichtenberger are all charged with acquisition of a controlled substance by fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge, a felony, and one count of possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor. They face a maximum penalty of 16 years in prison and $255,000 in fines.
Goetter, Citrola and Lichtenberger were arraigned before Bethlehem Magisterial District Judge Wayne Maura. Evans was arraigned before Allentown Magisterial District Judge Anthony Rapp.
Corbett thanked the Lehigh Valley Health Network for their assistance with the investigation.
The case will be prosecuted in Lehigh County by Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin's Office.
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(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)