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Report: Soledad prison nurses being investigated

Posted: November 19, 2012 8:00 a.m.
Updated: November 19, 2012 8:00 a.m.

MONTEREY, Calif. (AP) — State and federal officials are conducting parallel investigations into allegations of wrongdoing by some nurses at a Soledad prison, The Monterey County Herald ( ) reports.

Investigators are looking into possible payroll fraud, as well as accusations that go as far back as 2009, some nurses diverted pharmaceutical narcotics that were intended for inmates, and falsified medical records to cover up for the missing drugs at Soledad's Correctional Training Facility, the newspaper said in its Sunday edition and on its website Saturday.

Under a court order, health care at the prison is being overseen by the federal receiver's office.

The state Auditor's Office; the Department of Consumer Affairs, which oversees registered and vocational nursing boards; and the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, whose internal investigations unit is working in conjunction with the receiver's office, were conducting the investigations, said Joyce Hahoe, a spokeswoman for federal receiver's office.

The state Auditor's Office is investigating accusations that a nursing supervisor, Lydia Hampton-Stewart, collected hundreds of hours of unwarranted overtime pay, including payment for days on which she called in sick at the prison, The Herald reports.

Hampton-Stewart, who is on sick leave from the facility, refused to comment to the Herald.

Also being investigated are at least two licensed vocational nurses suspected of diverting narcotic pharmaceuticals prescribed for inmates.

The Herald says on Thursday the state Attorney General's Office filed an administrative accusation against Director of Nursing Angelia Britt, alleging she failed to discipline two vocational nurses suspected of misconduct, prevented others from doing so and failed to notify the state licensing authority when the two nurses were terminated.

Britt is also accused of falsifying narcotic drug records. The Attorney General's Office is seeking suspension or revocation of her license and restitution from her for the cost of the nearly two-year investigation, The Herald reported.

Britt declined to comment to the newspaper, referring all questions to the California Department of Corrections.

"We're aware of the allegations and are taking appropriate action," department spokeswoman Terry Thornton told The Herald. "Personnel (issues) and investigations are confidential, so I'm not at liberty to go into any detail."

Thornton confirmed that the allegations include payroll fraud, narcotics diversions and records falsifications.

Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Hampton-Stewart and Britt for comment were unsuccessful.



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