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NISKAYUNA: Nurse charged in drug theft

An anonymous tip has led to a local nurse being charged with stealing prescription narcotics and falsifying records to cover her tracks in a case that county lawmakers say highlights the importance of protecting vulnerable patients.

The charges against 32-year old Kimberly Kozakiewicz of Michigan Avenue in Schenectady were revealed in court after an investigation spearheaded by state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

She faces multiple counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, falsification of business records, offering a false instrument for filing and a misdemeanor count of criminal possession of a controlled substance. Kozakiewicz pleaded not guilty on Monday before Schenectady City Court Judge Vincent Versaci and was scheduled to be back in court on Wednesday, Aug.1.

According to the indictment against her, Kozakiewicz's problems started at the Hilltop nursing facility on Providence Avenue in Niskayuna when she diverted medications that were prescribed for patients. She is also accused of filing false medical reports to cover-up her activities by claiming patients received the drugs or they were destroyed. Prosecutors claim some of the patients were no longer at the facility when this occurred.

After being fired from Hilltop in March, Kozakiewicz allegedly applied to renew her nursing license without disclosing that she no longer worked there.

This entire investigation started with an anonymous call to the state Department of Health's Medicaid fraud tip line and then it was referred to us, said Matt Toomey, spokesman for Cuomo's office. "Our unit moved as quickly as possible on this case and the charges were brought into court on Monday.

"Our Medicaid fraud unit has a great deal of expertise in auditing and investigating complaints involving the health care system and is among the largest of its kind in the country," Toomey said. "We have the skills and the resources to investigate a wide range of complaints."

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