Health Care

Kansas nurses, aides charged with stealing meds, patient abuse; some still licensed

Jennifer Jones of Kansas City, Kan., is charged in Wyandotte County court with misdemeanor theft of Percocet, an opioid-based painkiller, and felony possession of oxycodone, the controlled substance in Percocet, with an intent to sell.
Jennifer Jones of Kansas City, Kan., is charged in Wyandotte County court with misdemeanor theft of Percocet, an opioid-based painkiller, and felony possession of oxycodone, the controlled substance in Percocet, with an intent to sell. Submitted

Ten Kansas nurses and nurse aides have been charged with Medicaid fraud, stealing narcotic medications and mistreating vulnerable adults after an enforcement sweep by the state’s attorney general.

At least eight are still licensed to work in the state, according to the Kansas State Board of Nursing and Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services online search tools.

Carol Moreland, executive director of the nursing board, said the board couldn’t comment on pending litigation and didn’t respond to questions about the licenses.

Three of the health care workers charged are from the Kansas City area. Based on witness lists, they were working at nursing homes at the time of the crimes they’re accused of committing.

Kansas City Crime Stoppers most wanted fugitives updated video updated Aug. 21, 2019.

Lenexa resident Catherine Mary Santaniello is charged in Johnson County court with two felony counts of mistreatment of a dependent adult, including one that alleges “knowing infliction of physical injury, unreasonable confinement or unreasonable punishment” on that adult.

Santaniello did not answer a phone number listed in court records and her voicemail said the mailbox was full. She didn’t immediately respond to a message on Facebook.

She’s also charged with two misdemeanors: battery and making a false claim to Medicaid. She has an Oct. 24 court date.

The charges against Santaniello were filed Sept. 24 for incidents that allegedly occurred in January 2017. The witness list includes a records custodian for Pinnacle Ridge Nursing and Rehabilitation in Olathe. Administrators there did not immediately return a phone message left Thursday.

According to the Kansas State Board of Nursing’s online search tool, Santaniello’s licensed practical nurse license remains active.

Santaniello’s Facebook page says she works for the Zack Group, a nursing agency based in Overland Park.

The president of the Zack Group, Ronald Zack, said Santaniello wasn’t working for his agency at Pinnacle Ridge when the alleged crimes occurred and Pinnacle Ridge was not a Zack Group customer. Zack said Santaniello hadn’t done any work for the Zack Group since March 2017 and the company terminated her in September 2017.

The list from the Kansas Attorney General also includes Jennifer Lynn Jones of Kansas City, Kan. She’s charged in Wyandotte County court with misdemeanor theft of Percocet, an opioid-based painkiller, and felony possession of oxycodone, the controlled substance in Percocet, with an intent to sell.

She’s also charged with another felony for putting false information in a “Controlled Substance Destruction Log,” as well as misdemeanor Medicaid fraud. All of the alleged incidents occurred in June 2018.

Jones, who has an Oct. 30 court date, could not be reached for comment.

The witness list in her case includes personnel from Kansas City Transitional Care Center, a nursing home on Rainbow Boulevard. An employee said Jones no longer works there and declined to comment further.

According to the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, Jones still has active licenses as a certified nurse aide and certified medication aide.

One of the few people on the attorney general’s list who no longer has a license is Erin Grae Whitlow. The former director of nursing at Parkway Care and Rehabilitation in Edwardsville, Whitlow is charged in Wyandotte County court with felony possession of morphine with intent to distribute.

A Parkway employee said Thursday that facility officials had no comment.

Whitlow, of Leavenworth, is also charged with felony mistreatment of two dependent adults by depriving them of “treatment, goods or services that were necessary to maintain the physical or mental health” of the adults.

All of the charges are related to things that allegedly happened in July and August of 2017.

Whitlow’s attorney, Brian Costello, said she’s since gotten treatment for drug abuse and is “willing to accept what she did.”

“We’ve been cooperating with the attorney general and she’s taking full responsibility for it,” Costello said.

Whitlow’s registered nurse license expired April 30.

The other people on the attorney general’s list are Ashley Elizabeth Chavez of Norton County, Janelle Lynn Sakakihara of Doniphan County, Jillian Mallory McCorkendale of Miami County, Nicole Pechanec of Butler County and Jamie Rodriguez, Jessica Jo Washington and Melissa Ann Seiber of Sedgwick County.

All still have active licenses, according to the state nursing board and KDADS websites, except for Sakakihara, whose name did not appear in the online databases.

Editor’s note: This story was updated after the Zack Group provided new information about Catherine Santaniello’s employment.

Related stories from Kansas City Star

  Comments