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Fluvanna prison nurse accused of stealing painkillers, forging documents

A nurse at a hyper-monitored state women’s prison was arrested for allegedly stealing oxycodone and forging records, court records show.

Michelle Collier, a nurse at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, stands charged with possessing oxycodone, a Schedule 2 drug, and committing forgery on a “count sheet” used by the prison to track the distribution of the pills.

Collier was a nurse responsible for pill administration. She was indicted by a Fluvanna County jury in December 2023.

Oxycodone is a highly addictive drug used for pain management. Its sale, misuse and improper marketing by pharmaceutical companies in the early 2000s is widely attributed to sparking America’s opioid epidemic.

The missing medications were flagged on the evening of March 3, according to internal emails shared by the prison’s former nursing director, Benite’e Towler Moore. Another prison nurse found that an inmate didn’t have enough pain pills to last him through the weekend.

Moore was later demoted and transferred by administrators with the Department of Corrections. She has filed a complaint stating that one of the reasons she believes she was punished was because she reported pill theft twice since being hired three months earlier.

Court records show that Collier plans to make a guilty plea on May 9 rather than take the matter to a jury trial.

A nurse under the same license number but a slightly different name — Michelle Morris Collier — was reprimanded for withdrawing and failing to document administering hydrocodone in 2017. That incident occurred at a nursing home, before Collier took a job with the state prison system.

Collier was made to take a class on how to properly document drugs, but her license was otherwise unaffected.

The Virginia Department of Health Professions did not return questions seeking comment on whether Collier had changed her middle name.

A spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Corrections did not return a request for comment on Wednesday.

Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women was ordered to improve its healthcare delivery for prisoners there in 2016. That order came from federal Judge Norman K. Moon in the wake of a civil suit brought by prisoners in 2012.

The suit alleged that the prison had a “systemic” problem of failing to meet medical standards required under the U.S. Constitution. It was initiated when medical staffing at Fluvanna was run by a for-profit company called Armor Correctional Health Services. The state has since ceased to use them for prison healthcare.

Since 2020, a prison healthcare professional named Homer Venters has made annual visits to Fluvanna to inspect how it cares for more than 900 women housed there.

Venters has remained in that role for years as the Virginia Department of Corrections has tried to bring the prison in compliance with standards agreed upon under the settlement. His most recent report found that the prison had made progress, but was still lacking in several key departments, including electronic recordkeeping.

On Wednesday, the Times-Dispatch asked Venters whether he was notified about any issues with drug diversion. Venters did not reply to calls or an email seeking comment.

The Times-Dispatch has previously reported on medical malpractice histories associated with employees of Virginia’s prison system, including three doctors who had their licenses revoked or suspended before being hired to care for the incarcerated.

In response to that reporting, Kyle Gibson, a Department of Corrections spokesperson, said “it is challenging to find providers with correctional experience, or who are committed to providing care to this vulnerable population.”

“Many of VADOC’s doctors choose to work for the department due to a genuine interest in practicing medicine in a correctional setting,” Gibson said. “This setting provides a unique challenge and opportunity for public service.”


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