MINEOLA, N.Y. – U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan and Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas and announced today that a former North Shore University Hospital nurse was arrested today for allegedly stealing 1,467 vials of fentanyl and 223 vials of midazolam between October and December 2020.
Melissa Frame, 36, from Merrick, was arraigned today before Judge David Levine on one count of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree (a B felony), one count of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree (a D felony), one count of grand larceny in the fourth degree (an E felony) and five counts of falsifying business records in the first degree (an E felony). The defendant was released on her own recognizance and is due back in court on May 25. If convicted of the top charge, the defendant faces a potential maximum of up to nine years in prison.
“The theft of this fentanyl by a hospital employee is a sad, yet stark reminder of how hard-hitting this opioid epidemic really is,” said Ray Donovan, DEA New York Division, Special Agent in Charge. “I commend the work of our diligent DEA Diversion Investigators and the Nassau County District Attorney’s office for their work on this investigation.”
“The defendant worked in a cardiac unit of the hospital and had access to highly-controlled substances like fentanyl,” DA Singas said. “She allegedly stole more than 1,400 vials of the dangerous drug in less than two and a half months. I thank Northwell Health for reporting this employee to law enforcement and for their cooperation in this matter.”
DA Singas said that the defendant is a former registered nurse who worked at North Shore University Hospital. From approximately October 3, 2020 to December 18, 2020, Frame allegedly used her fingerprint and a corresponding unique identification number to gain access to a medication dispensing machine more than 50 times. During the incidents, the defendant allegedly noted a patient’s name to correspond with the medication that was removed.
In total, Frame allegedly dispensed 1,467 two milliliter vials of fentanyl containing 100 micrograms of the drug and 223 vials of midazolam. A review of the records by the hospital system allegedly revealed that none of the drugs removed by the then-nurse were administered to any patients. The defendant allegedly took the controlled substances between two and 30 hours after a documented patient procedure, for which they already received medication.
According to the DEA, the amount of stolen fentanyl could be utilized to manufacture approximately one kilogram of a narcotic drug containing fentanyl valued at between $60,000 and $75,000.
Northwell Health reported the activity to law enforcement, fully cooperated in the investigation and the employee was terminated.
The defendant surrendered this morning to NCDA investigators. The investigation is ongoing.
Senior Assistant District Attorney Tova Simpson of DA Singas’ Major Crimes Bureau is prosecuting this case. The defendant is represented by Steven Gaitman, Esq.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.