A Superior woman pleaded guilty Monday on theft and drug possession charges after admitting she stole drugs from clients at a Duluth assisted-living facility.
Breanna Lynn Jessup, 36, pleaded guilty in Sixth District Court in Duluth to one count of felony theft and one count of fifth-degree possession. Judge Theresa Neo set Jessup’s sentencing for July 22.
The theft count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine; the possession count, a gross misdemeanor, carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $3,000 fine.
A report in March from the Minnesota Department of Health's Office of Health Facility Complaints reported a substantiated finding of maltreatment at the Benedictine Living Community of Duluth's Marywood assisted-living facility because of a staff member who allegedly "diverted medications from multiple clients."
The Benedictine Living Community’s administrator said his team discovered the theft, reported it and took steps to prevent it from happening in the future.
According to a criminal complaint filed in March, police were told in August 2018 that more than 200 narcotic pills had gone missing. Police followed up about a month later and learned that the facility’s supervisor suspected Jessup was responsible.
Police eventually contacted Jessup, who had recently completed a treatment program for alcohol abuse, and she admitted to taking the drugs.
Jessup said it was easy to take the drugs because "storage and management of medications was poor," according to the Minnesota Department of Health report.
The report by special investigator Darin Hatch found the staff member took 222 units of hydrocodone/acetaminophen, 42 units of an anticonvulsant and an unknown amount of hydromorphone, among other medications. Most were opioids or other pain relievers.
The report refers to the staff member as female but didn’t identify Jessup by name. It said she no longer worked for the facility.
The report’s maltreatment finding applies only to Jessup, but it found Marywood in "non-compliance" with statutes regarding medication.
No residents were harmed by the absence of medications, he wrote, and the medications were replaced at no cost to the residents.
Seven known and one unknown client were victims of the drug diversion, according to the report, but none was able to provide usable information. Two of the clients were dead by Jan. 29 and 30, when Hatch made his unannounced visit to the facilities.
The staff member substituted acetaminophen tables for hydrocodone/acetaminophen tablets, Hatch reported, and someone diluted the liquid medications.
The staff member admitted to diverting hydrocodone and possibly diverting hydromorphone and a cough syrup, the report stated.
Marywood opened in 2014 with 48 units near the College of St. Scholastica off Kenwood Avenue.