Fresno nurse stole pain meds, replaced with saline, investigators say

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno nurse arrested for stealing drugs at St. Agnes has now admitted what he did, but before he lost his license, investigators say he did it again at a new job.

We first told you about Jason Smith in an Action News exclusive last October. The 37-year-old was thrown in jail Monday on a new case.

Smith had been a well-respected nurse until last October when he was accused of stealing hundreds of vials of a powerful pain medication. A judge left him out of jail, and as he was about to be punished for the first thefts, investigators say Smith found a job and stole more meds.

Jason Smith walked into St. Agnes hospital on April Fool's day 2014 for the last time as a nurse. Investigators say in the previous two weeks, he'd grabbed about 400 vials of fentanyl. Problem was: He wasn't even supposed to be there. Smith was on paternity leave. And his unexpected visit prompted an investigation that found he'd been pilfering pain meds more powerful than morphine for at least six months -- pretending he was delivering it to patients, but keeping it for himself instead. Action News found documents in which Smith admitted to the Board of Registered Nursing that he used fraud, deceit or subterfuge to steal drugs.

"That admission can be used in a criminal case so it's clearly going to be overwhelming evidence against him," said ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi.

Smith was in the process of surrendering his license after facing felony charges in court. But investigators say that didn't stop him. They say he found a new job at a doctor's office and less than a month before he gave up his license, he stole fentanyl again, and morphine as well. What's worse, they say he tried to replace the prescription pain drugs with saline to cover up his thefts.

"That's affecting people who are innocent and have nothing to do with this," Capozzi said.

He says prosecutors will go after Smith harder because he repeated his crimes and because of the potential damage to people who needed the drugs. Capozzi also believes those people could sue Smith's second employer, who hired a suspected drug thief.

"Someone in a position like this that's in such a sensitive position really needs to be checked out and examined before you hire someone like that," he said.

Smith was arrested in court Monday and is jailed with a $110,000 bail.

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