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Judge revokes release of former Beaverton nurse

Deana Lyn Sweet, who's accused of taking drugs meant for a dying patient, will be held until sentencing
Tuesday, August 03, 2004

HILLSBORO -- A Washington County judge on Monday revoked the release of a former Beaverton nurse who is accused of stealing narcotics meant for a dying Tigard woman.
Deana Lyn Sweet, 37, had been free while awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to charges she falsified patient records to feed her drug habit.

Judge Timothy P. Alexander said Sweet's quest for narcotics, including depriving pain medication to a dying patient, showed a blatant disregard for the lives of others that is the hallmark of serious addiction.

"That seriously concerns me," Alexander said Monday before revoking Sweet's release.

In July, Sweet pleaded guilty to repeatedly injecting herself with prescription medication, such as Demerol, she took from work as a call-in advice nurse at Kaiser Permanente between September 2002 and February 2003. At the time, Sweet was enrolled in the Nurse Monitoring Program after having taken drugs while working at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, said Susan Hohbach, deputy district attorney.

Sweet has since lost her nursing license.

In March, Sweet was indicted by grand jury on 36 counts: 18 for unlawful use of a computer and 18 for illegally obtaining controlled substances. Sweet pleaded guilty to nine counts of each on July 12 and was released.

That same day, she also pleaded guilty to four charges stemming from a Feb. 28 arrest. She was charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants, reckless driving and two counts of endangering another person. Hohbach said Sweet was driving with her children in the car when she was arrested.

After pleading guilty on July 12, Sweet signed an agreement to obey the law and notify the court of any offenses until her sentencing on Sept. 16, according to court records.

However, prosecutors say, she had overdosed just days earlier on stolen prescription drugs meant for a terminally ill woman in her care.

"She's a danger to herself, she's a danger to others," Hohbach said after Monday's hearing.

According to court records, the Tigard woman's family hired Sweet this year, believing she was a licensed nurse, even though she had lost her license.

On July 7, Sweet is accused of taking a shot of morphine intended for the woman, who died the next day, the affidavit said.

In the most recent charges, Sweet is accused of second-degree theft, unlawfully obtaining a controlled substance and drug possession. Washington County sheriff's deputies arrested Sweet last week. Her arraignment on the new theft and drug charges is set for Aug. 11.

Alexander on Monday told Sweet's defense attorney, Leonard Ostrow, that he would consider allowing Sweet to attend drug treatment at a secure facility. Otherwise, Alexander said, Sweet must remain in custody until her sentencing Sept. 16 on the first round of charges.

Ostrow said Sweet realizes she has a drug problem. However, the attorney argued that Kaiser Permanente, which knowingly hired her despite her background, was partially at fault.

"It wasn't like she was just answering phones," Ostrow said. "She was in contact with a lot of highly addictive drugs. It was somewhat of a situation where she was set up for failure."

Shirley Dang: 503-294-5956;

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