State seal of the State of Vermont
The State of Vermont
The Office of the Attorney General

Home » Press Releases

Press Releases

Operating Room Nurse Will Serve 9 Months In Jail For Stealing And Possessing Narcotic Drug

CONTACT: Linda A. Purdy, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5511

July 14, 2011

Attorney General William Sorrell announced today that a former Registered Nurse at the Copley Hospital in Morrisville, convicted by a jury of stealing fentanyl, a powerful narcotic, from a hospital operating room in June 2006, will be imprisoned for nine months following the denial of his motion for sentence reconsideration.

James Erwin, age 63, was convicted in April 2009 of stealing a syringe containing the drug from an anesthesia tray in the operating room, where it had been prepared in advance of a surgical procedure. Fentanyl is routinely used as a painkiller in hospitals and is a widely abused drug throughout the United States.

Erwin was sentenced in August 2009, to six months to three years all suspended except nine months to serve. Superior Court Judge Christina Reiss stayed his sentence pending his appeal of his convictions to the Vermont Supreme Court.

In April of this year, the high court affirmed his convictions. The defendant subsequently requested that he be allowed to participate in the Department of Corrections Home Confinement Furlough program, rather than serve his time in prison.

Erwin’s motion to have his sentence reconsidered was denied after a hearing today in Lamoille Superior Court. Judge Dennis Pearson ordered Erwin to report to the Department of Corrections on August 1, 2011. Erwin will remain on probation before and after he is incarcerated.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.