BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The director of nursing at St. Catherine Laboure Health Care Center at Sisters Hospital has been arrested and charged with dealing prescription pills right out of the hospital.
The U.S. Attorney's Office and DEA arrested 40-year-old Catherine Vitello on Friday and charged her with possession with intent to distribute hydrocodone, fentanyl and alprazolam from a safe in her office at the hospital.
DEA agents say Vitello had access to un-used prescription drugs that were meant to be disposed of and on two separate occasions this month, she sold them to a confidential source working with their office. Authorities estimate she earned $60,000 this past year from illegal drug sales.
DEA Resident Agent in Charge Michelle Spahn said, "[She] was diverting chemicals onto the streets of Buffalo knowing these chemicals or prescription drugs would be for illegal sales on the streets without any concern whatsoever for public health."
Other local medical professionals arrested on similar charges:
- Dr. Pravin Mehta - charged in 2011 with writing illegal prescriptions
- Dr. Matthew Bennett - charged in 2012 with selling prescriptions
- Dr. Daniel Gillick - accused of abusing drugs
- Dr. John Maye - charged last week with selling prescriptions
Vitello has been director of nursing for the past year. The Elma woman is married with children. She will be arraigned on charges Friday afternoon.
If convicted, Vitello faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The hospital has placed her on administrative leave pending the results of her case. Officials say they do not believe Vitello took any medications that were meant for the facility's residents.
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