Woman accused of using false name to get drugs faces felony theft charge

  • Article by: JOY POWELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 4, 2009 - 9:40 PM

She used an alias to get IV narcotics administered in hospital ERs and clinics, police say.

A woman used a phony name to get narcotics administered intravenously to her at a Burnsville hospital, then ripped out her IV before trying to get away, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in Dakota County.

Papers found in her purse revealed she was visiting various medical facilities to swindle them out of drugs, police alleged in court papers.

The scheme unraveled Monday night, when Burnsville police answered a call at Fairview Ridges Hospital for a fraud and theft report.

The emergency room staff reported that a woman provided an apparently false name, identifying herself as Katherine M. Depiro, 45. She was actually Kathleen M. Staples, 49, of St. Paul, the complaint says.

While she was at the hospital, Staples, using the name Depiro, was administered the painkiller morphine and the anti-anxiety medication Ativan. She was also given X-rays and other tests after complaining of shortness of breath as well as back, neck and chest pain.

"After being seen in the emergency room, 'Depiro' ripped out her IV and walked out of the emergency room into the lobby," the court papers say. "Emergency room staff could not find any records on the Internet of Depiro, and she did not have any identification or an insurance card."

A police officer spoke to the woman, and she identified herself as Staples, the complaint says. She told the officer that she used a fake name because she was a battered woman and didn't want her husband to find her.

The police officer arrested her, and she refused to give a statement. A search of her purse then revealed paperwork from several other medical facilities that she visited in the past two weeks, the court papers say.

Hospital billing records indicate the medical services provided to Staples are valued at $3,082.05.

Staples was charged with theft by swindle, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine ranging from $3,000 to $10,000.

Burnsville police said Wednesday that the paperwork in Staples' purse shows she had gone to other facilities for drugs in recent days, including Hennepin County Medical Center, HealthEast, the United Hospital emergency room, and the Hewitt House Pharmacy.

Joy Powell • 952-882-9017

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