An Itasca County woman whose nursing license was suspended earlier this year over missing opioid medications in a Grand Rapids nursing facility now faces criminal felony charges.
Kimberly Ann Korpi, 46, of Goodland, Minn., appeared in District Court on Monday, Itasca County Attorney Matti R. Adam said in a news release. Korpi faces seven counts of felony theft of a controlled substance and one gross misdemeanor count of mistreatment of a resident or patient.
Korpi served as director of nursing of Majestic Pines Senior Living until being fired on July 23, 2018. As the News Tribune previously reported, she signed a statement on March 22 of this year agreeing to a one-year suspension of her license to practice as a registered nurse. The Minnesota Board of Nursing found in a consent order dated April 4 that Korpi had been unable to account for hundreds of narcotics pills that went missing after she placed them in an “overflow cabinet” in her office.
Each of the theft counts against Korpi pertains to one resident whose opioid medications were allegedly diverted.
In the criminal complaint, Grand Rapids Administrative Sgt. Robert Stein documents the missing pills, citing the victims only by their initials:
Patient B.B. had a net loss of 272 hydrocodone pills.
Patient B.K. had a net loss of 242 oxycodone pills.
Patient F.H. had a net loss of 146 hydrocodone pills.
Patient S.B. had a net loss of 168 hydrocodone pills.
Patient G.M. had a net loss of 109 hydrocodone pills.
Patient V.P. had a net loss of 90 oxycodone pills.
Patient M.P. had a net loss of 177 hydrocodone pills.
The prescription price for a single hydrocodone pill is $1.50, according to the website rehabspot.com, and the average street price is between $5 and $20. The prescription price for a single oxycodone pill is $6, and it brings between $12 and $40 on the street.
If an individual is convicted of a felony charge of theft of a controlled substance, the maximum sentence is 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine under Minnesota statute.
The gross misdemeanor charge for mistreatment of residents or patients cites “failure to provide patient B.B. with appropriate medication in (a) timely fashion.”
The criminal complaint cites an interview with a health aide who “specifically stated that she observed B.B. going through withdrawals because she did not receive her pills.” The health aide “became quite emotional while discussing the situation,” it continues.
The complaint traces the beginning of the disappearing pills to after Aug. 22, 2017, when Korpi was promoted from co-director to director of nursing at Majestic Pines and soon after implemented an overflow narcotics storage system. If a patient’s narcotic pain medications exceeded 90 pills, the remainder would be placed in a cabinet in Korpi’s office. None of the other nursing staff had a key to the cabinet, and none had a master key that would enable them to enter her office when it was locked, according to the complaint.
“It was only after Korpi had implemented the overflow system that numerous issues arose with patients inexplicably running short of their narcotic medications,” the complaint states.
According to the complaint, Stein also interviewed staff at Majestic Pines Senior Living in Grand Rapids, where Korpi had been hired as director of nursing in January 2015. He learned that 60 oxycodone pills belonging to one resident there had gone into an overflow container and were never seen again, but that the incident never had been investigated.
Both Majestic Pines and River Grand are managed by Grand Rapids-based Progressive Care. Rochelle Langlois, that company's president, said she could not comment on the case. Both facilities fully cooperated with the criminal investigation, Adam said.
At Korpi’s first appearance, the court imposed conditions including no contact with either facility. She was ordered to appear back in court at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 6.