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Nurses Say Doctor Got Them Hooked on Painkillers

Nurses Say Doctor Got Them Hooked on Painkillers

Stephen J. Lee / Grand Forks Herald

December 11, 2008

THIEF RIVER FALLS — Two former nurses who pleaded guilty to illegally obtaining prescription drugs told police that a doctor they worked for got them hooked and then ensnared them in a scheme to obtain thousands of pills to share with the doctor.

The doctor, an obstetrician/gynecologist who used to work at the now-MeritCare clinic, used to give them painkillers out of her pocket and from a jar on her desk, Melissa Beier, 33, and Sarah Sabol, 31, told police in transcripts obtained by the Herald.

Later, the doctor would give them prescriptions to fill, which they would share with her, they said.

That doctor has been part of a wider investigation involving prescription drugs by the Drug Enforcement Administration but she has not been charged.

Kristin Hanson, the assistant Pennington County attorney prosecuting the nurses, said she believes they told police the truth but allegations of co-conspiracy alone are not enough to charge someone with a drug crime.

Not enough other evidence came to light of the doctor’s role, Hanson said.

When the doctor stopped working at the clinic, the nurses said they began posing as Dr. Eloise-Marie Clark to get prescriptions because Beier worked for Clark.

The case came to light June 30 when a Wal-Mart pharmacist called police. The two nurses had been getting too many prescriptions, and he suspected they had been posing over the phone as doctors.

Sabol and Beier pleaded guilty to a fifth-degree felony in the twin cases.

Beier was sentenced Monday to a year and a day in jail, with all but 14 days postponed, and up to five years supervised probation. Sabol is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 29 in state district court in Thief River Falls.

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