DENVER (CBS4) – A former registered nurse for a Colorado Springs hospital who lied to patients and federal investigators about taking pain medications from patients’ delivery pumps for a “study” was sentenced last week to 12 months in federal prison.
Alicia Nickel-Tangeman, 44, will also serve one year of supervised release at the end of her incarceration.
U.S. District Court Judge Christine M. Arguello issued the sentence Nov. 30.
Nickel-Tangeman, formerly of Woodland Park, had pleaded guilty in August to four counts of obtaining controlled substances using fraud and deception while she was on the job. She faced up to four years imprisonment for each count.
According to the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, Nickel-Tangeman removed pain medications — legally classified as controlled substances — from on-demand delivery pumps at patients’ bedsides. Specifically, she was found to have removed medication from syringes placed inside the pumps from three patients on four separate occasions.
She told the patients she was conducting research on the pumps.
“When confronted by law enforcement regarding her actions,” the USACO stated in a press release, “the defendant lied about the diversions and persisted in her false story that she was engaged in a study with a well-known university.”
Nickel-Tangeman also created a fake email from a self-created account in an attempt to prove her claim, prosecutors alleged.
“The results of this investigation and corresponding sentence of Ms. Nickel-Tangeman reveal once more the seriousness of the overdose epidemic and opioid crisis facing our nation when even a nurse is susceptible to the temptation these drugs provide,” said David Olesky, a special agent for the Denver office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
Nickel-Tangeman was sanctioned by the state medical board in June of 2019. The federal case against her was filed this past June.