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Suspects trying to make "quick money" during pandemic, says federal prosecutor

Theft of drugs and personal protective equipment
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Posted at 1:36 AM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 01:36:39-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler says two Indianapolis women face federal charges for allegedly stealing drugs and personal protective equipment (PPE) from an Indianapolis Hospital.

“During this COVID19 pandemic, it is vitally important to protect our medical system and the supplies that are needed to treat patients and protect our medical workers.” said Minkler. “These individuals were trying to make some quick money at the cost of endangering innocent lives. This conduct will not be tolerated during a pandemic or ever.”

31-year-old April Hayworth and 37-year-old Christina Smith face federal drug, conspiracy, and burglary charges.

According to Minkler, the women broke into a restricted medication storage area at the IU Health Central Indiana Cancer Center in Indianapolis and stole thirty syringes of morphine, a controlled substance. With a covering over their heads, each individual opened multiple cabinets, removing the drugs.

Investigators also discovered that personal protective equipment and other medical supplies had been stolen from the hospital, including seven boxes of Isolation masks; 50 tubs of Sani-wipes; 10 containers of soap; 20 bottles of hand sanitizer; eight bottles of air deodorizer; and six tubs of bleach wipes.

Hayworth was a member of the cleaning crew at the hospital. Further investigation identified the other female as Christina Smith. Investigators discovered that Smith planned on selling the morphine.

Investigators later witnessed Smith entering a vehicle with an associate. They were stopped by Indianapolis police and Smith was identified and arrested on an outstanding warrant. During the arrest, officers discovered twenty-nine syringes of morphine in the vehicle.

“It is absolutely shameful with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, that Ms. Hayworth and Ms. Smith would burglarize the Central Indiana Cancer Centers, and steal a significant amount of morphine and personal protective equipment.” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Michael Gannon.

“As our community faces the challenges that result from COVID-19, it is our collective responsibility to support the healthcare workers serving on the front lines of this pandemic - and that means ensuring they have all of the tools, and especially the personal protective equipment, they need to serve residents,” said IMPD Chief Randal Taylor. “We are in this together. When someone seeks to profit from harming our healthcare partners, law enforcement will hold them accountable to the fullest extent possible.”

According to Assistant United States Attorney Kyle Sawa who is prosecuting this case for the government, each defendant faces up to 20-years in prison.