Tricounty News

Kimball nurse pleads guilty



to fraudulently acquiring a controlled substance

Wednesday, Sept. 26, in federal court, a 42-year-old Kimball nurse pleaded guilty to fraudulently acquiring a controlled substance, namely hydromorphone hydrochloride, commonly sold as Dilaudid. Blake Daniel Zenner pleaded guilty to one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. Zenner, who was charged via an Information on Sept. 4, 2012, entered his plea before United States District Judge Patrick J. Schiltz.

In his plea agreement, Zenner admitted that from November 2010 to March 8, 2011, he fraudulently acquired Dilaudid while working as a registered nurse at a hospital in St. Cloud. Zenner accessed hospital lockboxes and used syringes to remove hydromorphone hydrochloride from intravenous bags intended for hospital patients. On some occasions, he injected the intravenous bags with saline solution to replace the missing Dilaudid before returning the bags to the lockboxes for patient use. As a result of Zenner's actions, approximately 25 hospital patients were infected with bacteria.

For this crime, Zenner faces a potential maximum penalty of four years in federal prison. Judge Schiltz will determine his sentence at a future hearing, not yet scheduled. This case is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly A. Svendsen.