BILLINGS – The former Billings Clinic nurse who allegedly admitted stealing narcotics from more than 300 patients has now been charged in federal court.
Donald Friedlich Mills III pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Billings Tuesday to tampering with consumer products and fraudulently acquiring Fentanyl.
Prosecutors alleged that Mills acted with “reckless disregard for the risk that another person would be placed in danger of death or bodily injury” when he tampered with drugs meant for patients at the hospital.
The Montana Board of Nursing filed a notice with the state Department of Labor and Industry in April that it was seeking to strip Mills of his nursing certification after he allegedly diverted the narcotics.
Mills was fired from Billings Clinic less than a year after he began work after he allegedly admitted to the chief nursing officer that he was diverting the Fentanyl from patients for personal use.
Mills allegedly claimed he was using the drug, an extremely powerful pain killer, to treat his neck and shoulder pain.
He initially took the medication leftover after administering a dose to the patient, but Mills said his methods became more risky as he became addicted to Fentanyl, according to the Board of Nursing notice.
Mills eventually began swapping patients’ drugs for saline and keeping the Fentanyl for himself, according to documents. Mills was caught and reported after he began accessing the cath lab during his leave from work to obtain additional vials of the drug.
The hospital notified 341 patients who could have been affected by the diversion scheme.
It’s unclear if the Board of Nursing request was approved.
Mills was not in custody on Thursday.
MTN’s Aja Goare