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Nurse receives probation in drug case

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A 37-year-old traveling registered nurse who fraudulently obtained prescription painkillers from Hilo Medical Center for her own personal use two years ago was sentenced Monday to probation and a brief jail sentence.

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A 37-year-old traveling registered nurse who fraudulently obtained prescription painkillers from Hilo Medical Center for her own personal use two years ago was sentenced Monday to probation and a brief jail sentence.

Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura sentenced Trisha Ramirez to five years probation with one year in jail.

Ramirez, of Hesperia, Calif., will have to serve only 30 days in jail provided she satisfactorily completes her probation.

She pleaded no contest Friday to three counts each of third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, drug paraphernalia and obtaining controlled substances by deception or fraud.

All offenses Ramirez pleaded to are Class C felonies that carry a possible five-year prison term.

“It was an agreed-upon sentence,” said Deputy Prosecutor Shaunda Liu, who added Ramirez was given 18 days credit for time she spent behind bars after being arrested in March in Illinois on an extradition warrant.

In return for Ramirez’s no-contest pleas, prosecutors dropped two counts each of promoting a dangerous drug, drug paraphernalia and obtaining controlled substances by deception and fraud.

Ramirez also was ordered to undergo substance abuse assessment and treatment, random urinalysis with no drugs or alcohol, and no possession of pharmaceutical drugs not prescribed to her, Liu said.

Ramirez, a U.S. Army veteran and mother of two, was indicted in November by a Hilo grand jury.

According to police, the drugs Ramirez took from the local hospital included meperidine, hydromorphone, morphine and fentanyl, which are opioid or synthetic opioid painkillers, and the alleged offenses took place in March 2013.

Liu said Nakamura denied Ramirez’s request for a deferred acceptance of her no-contest pleas, which would have erased her record upon satisfactory completion of probation.

Ramirez has “started the process of voluntarily turning in her nursing license” in Hawaii, Liu said.

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A Monday phone call to Damir Kouliev, Ramirez’s attorney, was not returned by press time.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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