AMBOY — Felony drug charges were filed Friday against a Nicollet nurse who allegedly stole dozens of morphine pills from a former hospice patient in Mankato.
The drug thefts were reported in September, but the investigation was delayed because Jennifer Laura Plooster, 32, checked into a treatment facility shortly after she was questioned about the thefts, a criminal complaint said. Her nursing license was suspended by the Minnesota Board of Nursing in February.
An employee with Good Samaritan Home Health called the Mankato Police Department on Sept. 12 to report morphine had been stolen from a client.
The victim told an officer Plooster had stopped at his residence about four times between Aug. 1 and Sept. 12 and would usually bring him cookies or cupcakes. He didn’t remember the woman’s name, but said she had been his nurse while he was in hospice care at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato.
The man said the nurse, later identified as Plooster by a business card she left with him, would randomly visit him. The first few times she knocked and asked how he was doing, but on Sept. 12 she entered without knocking at about 8 a.m., he said.
He reported he saw her holding his morphine bottle, but didn’t see her take any pills. He later discovered only four pills were left in the bottle and estimated about 80 pills were missing.
“(The victim) stated he had no other visitors that day and was pretty sure that Plooster stole his morphine pills as she would have been the only one who had access to them,” the complaint said.
When Plooster was interviewed by the officer, she said she had taken care of the victim while he was in hospice care. She also said she had visited him recently because she was driving by, recognized the address and wanted to see how he was doing. She denied taking any pills from the man, saying, “she would never do that,” the complaint said.
When Plooster was asked if her fingerprints would be on the pill bottle, she allegedly said that was possible.
Shortly after that interview the officer was contacted by an employee at Baywood Home Care, which is where Plooster was working at the time. The employee reported Plooster’s husband told her Plooster was at the detoxification center in New Ulm. He also told her Plooster planned to check into a treatment facility for two months after she was released from there.
She appeared before a review panel at the Minnesota Board of Nursing in December. At that time she allegedly admitted receiving treatment for opiate addiction and admitted to stealing pills from patients, including the victim interviewed by the officer.
Plooster is scheduled to make her first court appearance on July 19 for felony charges third-degree possession of 50 or more dosages of a narcotic, fifth-degree drug possession and theft.