Illinois State Police said a Caseyville woman pleaded guilty earlier this month after she was arrested for making false reports to get hydrocodone at a local nursing home. Her arrest was the result of a drug diversion investigation that was launched by the Illinois State Police Medicaid Fraud Control Bureau.
The 38-year-old woman was identified by police as Trisha Cleveland. Cleveland faced one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance in St. Clair County. The case was referred to the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Bureau for prosecution, and Cleveland was sentenced to two years of felony probation and 30 hours of community service.
Police said the Medicaid Fraud Control Bureau had been contacted in April by staff at Four Fountains Convalescent Center in Belleville regarding allegations that Cleveland diverted hydrocodone. According to their investigation, Cleveland falsely reported requests by residents for their prescribed, “as needed,” hydrocodone. Police said the residents had never asked for the medication, and that Cleveland was getting hydrocodone “for her own personal use.”
Hydrocodone, an opioid, is considered a Schedule II narcotic, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
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Another nurse in a separate drug investigation was also sentenced to two years of probation and 30 hours of community service after she also recently pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Police said 37-year-old Jessica Marberry, of Chillicothe, was arrested in February after authorities investigated a complaint from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Police said Marberry obtained hydromorphone for herself while working as an ER nurse at a hospital in Pekin.
Hydromorphone is also a Schedule II opioid drug.
“Today’s society is experiencing an alarming epidemic of opioid and prescription drug abuse,” Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz said in a news release. “This affects all facets of society including the addicted, their family, and the patients to whom the medication is prescribed. The Illinois State Police remains diligent and thoroughly investigates cases of drug diversion and trafficking.”
“It’s our mission to combat fraud, neglect, and abuse within the Medicaid Provider arena,” Illinois State Police Capt. Brian Ley also said of the arrests. “We see the entire spectrum of this mission when investigating drug diversion cases, and it’s troubling to witness healthcare professionals like these two nurses tarnish the medical profession.”