Ex-Indiana nurse sentenced for stealing opioid patches from terminally ill patients

A former Indiana nurse was sentenced to four years in prison Friday for crimes that included stealing opioid patches from two terminally ill nursing home patients, the Pantagraph of Bloomington reported.

According to court records, James Rellihan, 31, sneaked into the rooms of a 71-year-old cancer patient and a 98-year-old dementia patient and removed their pain patches.

Rellihan targeted the elderly patients "because he knew these victims couldn't speak for themselves." Assistant State Attorney Jeff Horve said.

According to court documents, Rellihan made two visits in late February to facilities in Bloomington and Normal.

On Feb. 24 Rellihan removed three fentanyl patches from a terminally ill man at the Bloomington Rehabilitation and Health Care Center where he worked, telling the patient, "It will be OK," Horve told the court in March.

Two days later at the Heritage Health facility in Normal -- a place where he had previously worked -- Rellihan removed a fentanyl patch from a man with dementia, the Pantagraph reported.

Rellihan pleaded guilty to residential burglary in June over one of the nursing home incidents, the Pantagraph reported.

He has surrendered his nursing license.

Rellihan apologized to one victim’s family members in court, and his own family, the newspaper reported.

“If I could go back and do it over, I'd change a million things," Rellihan said.

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