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Utah hospice worker pleads guilty to attempting to distribute dead patients' drugs

Published June 7, 2013 1:12 pm

Courts • Woman accused of giving dead residents' medication to other patients.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The director of the Alta Ridge hospice care facility in Holladay — accused of giving dead residents' medication to surviving patients — was ordered Thursday to pay more than $9,000 in restitution and remain out of trouble for three years.

Cheryl Uzzell, 70, entered a guilty plea in abeyance Thursday in 3rd District Court to one felony and one misdemeanor count of attempted distribution of a controlled substance, for which she could have been sentenced to up to five years in prison.

But if Uzzell can repay all the money and remain on good behavior, her case will be dismissed in June 2016.

Uzzell was initially charged in March of knowingly producing and distributing a controlled substance, a second- and third-degree felony, respectively.

She was arrested several months after a Unified police officer went to Alta Ridge Communities' location in Holladay, 1009 E. Murray-Holladay Road and asked Uzzell about complaints about Uzzell's handling of dead residents' medications.

At first, officials said, Uzzell denied the allegations. Later, she admitted that she and her head nurse had treated people with the medications of dead residents, but added it was not a frequent occurrence, according to charging documents.

Uzzell allegedly showed the officer fake documents that indicated the dead residents' medications had been destroyed.

According to charges, Uzzell kept the medications — including addictive prescriptions of Lorazepam, Fentanyl and morphine — in her locked desk drawer.

Uzzell will appear in court for a review hearing in February.


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