Nurse faces new charges in opioid theft case in Bloomington

Nurse faces new charges in opioid theft case in Bloomington

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BLOOMINGTON — A Bloomington nurse accused of removing opioid patches from the bodies of residents at two nursing homes now faces residential burglary charges in connection with the alleged thefts.

Prosecutors added the new felony counts to the burglary and theft charges leveled against James Rellihan in connection with the alleged removal of fentanyl patches from residents of Bloomington Rehabilitation and Health Care Center where the defendant worked as a nurse, and his former employer, Heritage Health in Normal.

On Friday, Judge Casey Costigan denied competing motions from the state and defense related to Rellihan's bond. The state sought to double the current $50,000 bond and the defense sought either a no-cash bond, or a $10,000 bond. Either bond would require Rellihan to post 10 percent to be released.

Defense lawyer Brendan Bukalski said Rellihan suffers from chronic pain and needs substance abuse treatment. Bukalski said he has not reviewed reports compiled by the state of a jail call in which Rellihan allegedly confessed.

"To be honest, I did it," Rellihan told a caller, according to Assistant State's Attorney Jeff Horve.

A joint investigation by Bloomigton and Normal police indicates the opiate patches started to disappear from the storeroom at the Bloomington facility in August. Packages containing the patches that had been cut open also were found during shifts worked by Rellihan, said Horve.

On Feb. 24, a security camera installed in response to the thefts recorded Rellihan entering a patient's room at 6:35 a.m. on his day off, said Horve. Staff later noticed three fentanyl patches missing from a terminally ill resident who recalled a male nurse telling him "It will be OK" as the patches were removed, said the prosecutor.

Two days later, staff at the Normal nursing home reported seeing Rellihan enter a resident's room where he allegedly took a patch from a person with dementia.

In his request to increase Rellihan's bond, Horve said three investigations are pending that may result in new theft charges against Rellihan stemming from items missing from the Normal facility.

In his remarks to the judge, Rellihan offered to be outfitted with an ankle monitor "or whatever you need me to do" in order to released from jail. The defendant, who is the father of two small children, also said he was willing to obtain substance abuse treatment, if released.

The judge told Rellihan that the safety of the public, the victims and the defendant supported the $50,000 bond. An outstanding warrant in Missouri for Rellihan on a traffic offense also precludes his release from jail, said Costigan.

An April 25 hearing is set to review the status of the case.


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