July 2, 2014

Nurse charged with neglect of long-term care patients

A nurse faces felony drug and neglect charges after police said she failed to feed and administer medication to patients and unlawfully obtained a controlled substance.

Nicole R. Banuelos, 40, of 801 W. South St., Mascoutah, faces 13 counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance and two counts of neglect of a person with a disability.

Police said Banuelos unlawfully acquired Ritalin, hydrocodone, atropine, morphine, Ambien and Ativan on March 21 and Nov. 3.

The charges stated that Banuelos failed to feed a patient and failed to give medication to another patient on March 21, 2014. Those patients were being cared for at a long-term care facility, but it could not immediately be determined where Banuelos worked.

The case was investigated by Illinois State Police and will be prosecuted by the Illinois Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Unit. Illinois State Police Special Agent Phillip Taylor and Assistant Attorney General Stephen Swofford could not be reached for comment.

Stephanie Santelli Guzy, Banuelos' attorney, could not immediately be reached.

Banuelos was originally charged March 3 with illegal distribution of a controlled substance, two counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.

Last week, she was charged with six more counts of unlawful acquisition of a controlled substance, two counts of criminal neglect of a person with a disability and one count of possession of a controlled substance.

Banuelos was released after she posted bond on the cases filed in March, but St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert Haida added the following conditions: Banuelos not practice as a nurse and not engage in services to the elderly or impaired. Haida prohibited her from taking a job where she would be around controlled substances.

Banuelos has been licensed as a practical nurse since Jan. 28, 2008. Her license expires in 2015.

She is next scheduled to appear in court July 18.

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