Hospice Nurse Sentenced to Two Years in Prison
Greeley Tribune, Colorado
September 18, 2009
A former hospice nurse in Greeley was sentenced to two years in prison Thursday for stealing six patients’ identities to get their pain medications.
Marguerite Furgerson’s sobs echoed through the Weld Courthouse hallway as she was led away in handcuffs to immediately begin serving her prison sentence.
“You’re a nurse. You’re supposed to be helping people,” Weld District Court Judge Tom Quammen told Furgerson before sentencing her. “It’s bad enough that you had this addiction or you were taking a massive amount of drugs. .. and for someone in the medical profession to invoke the identity of particular people who looked to you for help to get those drugs, is inexcusable. This case will result in the loss of trust people have in you, and result in the loss of your license, but the side effect the court is concerned about is the loss of trust others may have in their nurses and the medical profession. Your case … is having an unfortunate impact on a very good profession.”
On Aug. 6, Furgerson, 30, of Milliken, pleaded guilty to four counts of identity theft, one count for each patient. Deputy Weld District Attorney Kent Leier said he dropped two other cases against her in exchange for her plea.
She was accused of stealing massive quantities of drugs in the patients’ names, prompting some to believe she had been dealing the drugs, though there was no evidence of that.
Before her sentencing, Furgerson apologized for what she did.
“It was never my intention to hurt my patients or their families,” said Furgerson, who went to court Thursday with a certificate of graduation from an intensive substance abuse treatment program. “I knew all of them, and I loved them, and I loved being a nurse. … I’m sorry for what I did.”
Her attorney, Matthew Crowther, asked that Furgerson be allowed to attend her son’s birthday party before being locked up. Quammen denied the request.
Furgerson’s apology didn’t satisfy Zach St. Aubyn, a detective with the Greeley police, or his father-in-law Bill Spalding, a commander with the Weld County Sheriff’s Office. Spalding’s daughter and St. Aubyn’s wife, Lyndi St. Aubyn, 28, was one of the hospice patients in whose name Furgerson obtained thousands of painkillers. She spent her final days wondering if her doctors would refuse to give her pain medication because Furgerson had obtained so much in her name.
“This was difficult to start with. We didn’t just get a free pass (to get pain medications),” St. Aubyn said. “And this woman used my co-pay and my insurance to get medications for herself. She got thousands of pills. How do I tell her watching her die every day that I think we can trust (the nurse)? I’m a detective, and I’m supposed to protect her, and I couldn’t because of what (Furgerson) felt she had to do.”
© YellowBrix 2009