By: Patti Weaver
(Stillwater, Okla.) — A 38-year-old woman was arraigned Tuesday from the Payne County Jail on charges of theft of two patients’ pain medication and abuse by caretaker while she was employed by the Brookdale Nursing Home in Stillwater in May.
Danelle Lynne Lee of Stillwater, who has also been known by the surname of Cook, was being held in jail on $15,000 total bail pending a July 1 court appearance at which she can seek a preliminary hearing on three counts of caretaker abuse and three counts of drug theft, court records show.
If convicted of those six felony counts, Lee could be given as much as a 60-year prison term and a $60,000 fine, court records show.
Lee has also been charged with selling morphine to a Stillwater Police Department confidential informant in May, a felony punishable by two years to life in prison on conviction plus a $20,000 fine, court records show.
Lee was initially arrested at 5:30 p.m. on May 28 in a Stillwater apartment complex parking lot where she allegedly sold two syringes containing .25 mg. each of a liquid believed to be morphine, Stillwater Police Detective Tom Comstock wrote in an affidavit. In that case, Lee was freed from the Payne County Jail on $5,000 bond on May 31, with an order to appear in court with an attorney on July 2, court records show.
On May 29 in the Stillwater City Jail, Detectives Josh Carson and Comstock talked to Lee, who said she was then an employee of Brookdale Nursing Home, the affidavit alleged. “This past weekend (in late May) she was supposed to administer the morphine to a patient, but became busy and forgot so she kept the morphine. She was trying to sell the morphine to make some extra money,” the affidavit alleged.
On June 17, Lee was arrested again, this time on three counts of caretaker abuse and three counts of drug theft, court records show.
Lee “stated the night of the 24th going on the 25th (of May) she checked the (morphine) medicine out to give to (a patient), but they were so busy on the floor she forgot to administer the medication, so she just kept it and decided to sell it for extra money,” an affidavit alleged.
On May 31, Detective Comstock spoke to two employees of Brookdale Nursing Home, who said the patient was in the facility during the time of the theft, “but she passed away on the 28th of May,” the affidavit alleged. The patient “had been on hospice for terminal cancer and the morphine was being used to keep her comfortable,” the affidavit alleged.
The employees provided documentation showing that Lee had checked the medication out to administer to the patient at 4 p.m. on May 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27, the affidavit alleged. “On each of these dates, she also went into the computer and documented where she had administered the medication,” the affidavit alleged.
On June 5, Detective Comstock spoke to the patient’s physician, who advised that morphine was being given to the woman “to help alleviate pain as she was in the advanced stages of cancer and in hospice,” the affidavit alleged.
Asked by the detective if the patient missed at least two doses of morphine would it have contributed to her passing away, the physician “stated he did not believe missing two doses would contribute to her passing away,” but would have caused the patient to feel pain and discomfort, the affidavit alleged.
Lee also “admitted she had taken six Norco pills from (another patient) between May 23, 2019, and May 27, 2019,” the affidavit alleged.
“Lee stated she would take the pills to the patient’s room, but the patient would be asleep so she could not administer them,” the affidavit alleged.
Employees of the nursing home provided documentation showing that Lee had checked the pain medication out to administer to that patient at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on May 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27, the affidavit alleged. “On each of these dates, she also went into the computer and documented where she had administered the medication, along with documentation of the patient’s pain level,” the affidavit alleged.
“Not receiving her prescribed pain medicine would cause (the patient) to suffer from pain,” the affidavit alleged.