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Former Hospital Employee Accused of Stealing Drugs from Machine

By Emily Cassulo
By ecassulo@wbbjtv.com

MCKENZIE, Tenn. - A former nurse is in trouble, accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of prescription drugs from a local hospital.

McKenzie police said they believe he was at it about two years before anyone noticed the missing drugs. Investigators said hospital administrators have made changes to keep something like this from happening again.

Police said staff at McKenzie Regional Hospital did not notice anything was wrong, until they said Gene Dougherty came into work one day, under the influence.

"This nurse was actually named Employee of the Year, one year," said Lt. Rick Sawyers of the McKenzie Polcie Department. "They said he was a very good worker, and they were all shocked when this happened."

After an investigation, Dougherty was indicted last week by a Carroll County Grand Jury on theft of property of more than $10,000, one count of obtaining Scheduled II controlled substance by fraud, one count of obtaining Scheduled IV controlled substance by fraud, and Tenn-Care fraud.

"They decided to go back and check their records, and they found that over that two-year period, he had taken drugs on almost 900 different occasions, involving over 600 patients," Sawyers said.

Police said Dougherty, who worked in the operating room, took the medications from an automated dispensing machine.

"The patient would always get the correct amount that the doctor had prescribed , while they were in the hospital, but he would add to that, to the prescription, and then he would keep the excess and that's the way he covered his tracks for that period of time," Sawyers said.

Investigators said Dougherty took mostly injection medications, but some were pills.

According to police, the medicine he is accused of taking is so strong, you can only get it from a hospital.

"He was a nurse. He took care of people, and you're doing this while you're taking care of people? No, that's kind've messed up," said resident Tonia Moore.

Dougherty was released from the Carroll County Jail on $5,000 bond.
His next court appearance is June 10.