TEXARKANA, Texas — A former registered nurse accused of tampering with a vial of fentanyl while working at Healthcare Express in Texarkana is facing criminal charges in federal court.
Clifford Russell Harris, 38, allegedly emptied a vial of fentanyl, a powerful narcotic which has gained popularity as a street drug, and filled the vial with another substance Dec. 29, 2018, while working at Healthcare Express, according to felony information filed Wednesday in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas.
According to a Texas Board of Nursing order revoking Harris' licenses as a registered nurse and as a licensed vocational nurse Nov. 12, 2019, Harris did not appear for his hearing and a default order was entered.
The order, acquired by the Gazette via a Freedom of Information Act request, includes a finding that Harris was captured on video surveillance Dec. 29, 2018, while working as a registered nurse at Healthcare Express accessing a locked safe which contained controlled substances.
Harris was allegedly "observed on video surveillance picking the lock while the Pain Management Clinic was closed," the order states.
"Subsequently, tampered vials of Fentanyl and Morphine were discovered," the order states.
A docket entry in the federal criminal case notes that Harris has entered into a plea agreement with the government on a charge of tampering with consumer products. The information accuses Harris of acting with "reckless disregard for the risk that another person would be placed in danger of death or bodily injury, and under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to such risk" by tampering with a medical product meant for use by a consumer.
A notice of penalty in the case states that if death of an individual results from the product tampering, a defendant faces up to life in federal prison. If serious bodily injury results, the defendant faces up to 20 years in prison. Otherwise, a defendant faces up to 10 years in prison. A fine up to $250,000 is possible as well.
Bowie County criminal records indicate Harris was arrested Jan. 4, 2019, on state charges of tampering/fabricating physical evidence and two counts of possession of a controlled substance and released on bonds totaling $35,000 the same day. Those charges have been dismissed, likely in light of the pending federal prosecution.
Texarkana lawyer Michael Friedman is representing Harris. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Hornok is prosecuting. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder III. A date for Harris to appear in court has not been scheduled.