Registered nurse pleads guilty to stealing, using drugs from Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Posted at 1:45 PM, Dec 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-13 15:45:22-05

DENVER — A registered nurse pleaded guilty on Wednesday to stealing drugs, including fentanyl, from a Denver medical center and using them on his own time.

Erick Lee Tombre, 46, of Denver, who was a registered nurse in Colorado, pleaded guilty Wednesday for acquiring and trying to obtain controlled substances, including hydromorphone, by deception and subterfuge, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to court documents, Tombre earned his license as a registered nurse in Colorado in April 2012. He started work at the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center in January 2014. As a nurse, he had access to an automated system that dispensed controlled substances. The system requires staff members to enter their login information to withdraw drugs, and also documents all transactions.

An audit from February 2017 showed unusual and unaccounted for withdrawals of controlled substances, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. For example, it detailed Tombre withdrawing hydromorphone for the same patient three times in one hour and documented only one of those three doses as administered to the patient. The documents also revealed that he withdrew more than twice the amount of fentanyl than the next highest health care provider in his unit. He had withdrawn the most hydromorphone 2 mg syringes as well.

During the investigation, Tombre said he had diverted controlled substances for a few years and then used the hydromorphone and fentanyl. He told authorities he’d steal the narcotics by drawing up the extra drugs into a syringe after administering to a patient. He’d then discard saline instead of the drug, which he kept, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

On an average shift, he said he would take home one or two syringes that were half full.

The investigation did not find evidence that any patients were harmed.

Tombre was charged on Nov. 9 and pleaded guilty Wednesday. He faces up to four years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.

He is free on bond and will face his sentencing on April 2, 2019.