Opioids are a class of drugs that are typically prescribed to relieve pain. These drugs come with names like Vicodin, Oxycodone, Oxycontin, and Fentanyl patches. While these drugs may be needed for a short time to relieve pain from an injury or surgery, they can be highly addictive. Overprescribing them is thought to be a reason behind the current epidemic of opioid overdoses. Opioid dependency may also have had an unintended victim: the elderly. Caregivers who are addicted may take advantage of those they are charged with caring for by stealing their medication, as one man in Illinois pleaded guilty to according to the Pantagraph.
31-year-old James Rellihan pleaded guilty Thursday, June 14th to a count of residential burglary.
The plea agreement allowed for five other felony charges to be dropped against Rellihan.
Rellihan was off-duty but employed as a nurse at Bloomington Rehabilitation and Health Care Center when he entered the room of a patient and stole a Fentanyl patch. Two days later, he entered his previous place of employment, Heritage Health in Normal, Illinois. He stole another patch from a terminally ill patient in that facility.
The plea deal requires that Rellihan surrender his nursing license. It also may require that Rellihan spend four to fifteen years in prison, though the judge is expected to sentence him to probation.
Rellihan may also be sentenced to a community-based program called Adult Court and Probation Services Program, which is specifically tailored to those who are suffering from addiction in order to focus on rehabilitation over jail time.