St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - A federal judge has sentenced a registered nurse to 18 months in prison for stealing prescription pain medication from an elderly woman recovering from multiple surgeries.

A statement from the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota says 27-year-old La Vang of Newport earlier entered a guilty plea to a charge of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. Prosecutors say Vang was working for a home health care agency and was assigned to provide care for the victim, who had been prescribed opioid painkillers. It was alleged Vang stole the patient's oxycodone and hydrocodone pills and replace them with similar looking tablets containing Tylenol and another much lower strength medication.

Over the next several months, the victim’s medical condition declined sharply and her husband voiced his concerns to the home healthcare agency. He was told the company's contract for providing care to his wife had ended two months earlier, and even though Vang was no longer employed by the agency, he had continued to visit and pretend he still worked for the firm.

It was noted the sentence represents an upward departure from federal guidelines due to Vang's position of trust and the harm caused to a vulnerable victim.

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