The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

July 31, 2013

Former hospital nurse pleads to federal drug charge

MANKATO — A 38-year-old Madelia woman pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to fraudulently obtaining prescription pain medicine from patients in a hospital where she was working.

Tess Marie Johnson admitted in a plea hearing in Minneapolis to taking oxycodone pills and replacing them with Tylenol tablets in October 2012. She also admitted to taking the pain killers for her own use.

Johnson was charged in federal court in May. She is facing a maximum penalty of four years in prison. A pre-sentence investigation was ordered by U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz and a sentencing date will be set later, said a news release for the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Minnesota.

Court documents don't say where Johnson was working when the pills were taken or how many victims had received Tylenol instead of their oxycodone prescription. One potential victim who received a notice about the plea hearing was treated at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato in July 2012.

Officials at the hospital did not want to comment about Johnson's case, said Mayo spokesman Kevin Burns when contacted last week.

Johnson's Facebook page says she was employed as a nurse at the Mankato hospital from 2006 to 2012. Johnson's name also shows up in court documents related to the murder of James Nibbe in August 2010. Nibbe's wife, Jennifer Nibbe, was treated at the hospital by Johnson when she was brought there by a law enforcement officer.

Nibbe was being treated for injuries she claimed she received while struggling with the intruder who killed her husband. Jennifer Nibbe was later convicted of second-degree murder for shooting her husband while he slept.

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