A.G. Schneiderman Announces Indictment Of Nurse Who Stole Pain Patches From Ventilator-dependant Nursing Home Residents

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Indictment Of Nurse Who Stole Pain Patches From Ventilator-dependant Nursing Home Residents

BRONX -- Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the felony indictment of Pedrito L. Melecio, a former Registered Nurse at St. Barnabas Rehabilitation & Continuing Care Center, on grand larceny, among other charges, for stealing Fentanyl patches, a controlled substance used for pain management, from two ventilator-dependent residents. If convicted, he faces up to 4 years in prison. Melecio was fired as a result of this incident.

"Residents of nursing homes and their families put their lives and trust in the hands of nurses and other health care professionals," Attorney General Schneiderman said. "It's inexcusable that this employee betrayed that trust and stole pain medication to abuse himself. My office will continue prosecute anyone who endangers elderly or disabled New Yorkers in their care."

The theft came to light when a co-worker found Melecio, 54, of the Bronx, inside the facility's medication room in a catatonic state and called 911. Following an audit of all ventilator-dependent residents, it was discovered that two residents, identified publicly as JG and CL, were missing patches. Hospital records revealed that a Fentanyl patch was found and removed from Melecio's mouth. 

The alleged crimes occurred during the evening shift of October 4, 2011, when Melecio was working as a caregiver to JG and CL. JG is a 29-year-old resident who is nonverbal but responsive to tactile stimuli. CL, a paraplegic who later passed away from unrelated causes, was 65 at the time of the incident. Both residents of the home, located at 2175 Quarry Road, required the Fentanyl, a highly potent, concentrated narcotic, for pain management. 

Melecio, who was initially arrested last year, was arraigned on the indictment in Bronx County Supreme Court before the Honorable Marc Whiten today.  He was released on his own recognizance. He faces two counts each of felony charges of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree and misdemeanor charges of Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent and Physically Disabled Person, Willful Violation of Health Laws and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree.  If convicted he faces a maximum sentence of 1 1/3 to 4 years. 

The charges against the defendants are accusations and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

The case is being prosecuted by Lissette G. Fernandez and Jeanine M. Girgenti, Special Assistant Attorneys General of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, under the supervision of Cassandra Bethel, Chief of the Patient Protection Unit. The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is supervised by Special Deputy Attorney General Monica Hickey-Martin and Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.