BILLINGS — At his change of plea hearing Tuesday for charges related to stealing drugs from patients, a former Billings nurse told the judge he is currently in substance abuse treatment.
Donald Mills, who was born in 1984, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Billings to one count of tampering with consumer products and one count of acquiring Fentanyl by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery and deception.
Mills was employed as a nurse at Billings Clinic in 2017 when he was caught diverting powerful painkillers away from patients for his own personal use.
When he was confronted about the stolen medication, Mills told the investigator that he had neck and back pain and believed he could self-medicate.
At his Tuesday hearing, Mills told the judge he now takes a prescription for the neck pain, along with medications for anxiety and depression.
Mills admitted Tuesday that he “accessed medications intended for patient use and replaced them with saline” so he could use the Fentanyl for himself.
Investigators believe Mills pilfered 200 milliliters of the drug from over 300 patients from February to March of 2017.
Mills used a syringe to remove the drug from packaging used in medical procedures at the hospital and replaced it with saline, according to court documents.
Mills said he would inject the Fentanyl, a highly addictive and potentially lethal painkiller, into his arm in the bathroom.
Though he stole most of the Fentanyl out of the vials intended for patients, Mills claims he made sure his patients received a full vial of the drug along with whatever he switched out.
The judge noted Tuesday that Mills, who has been living in Wyoming, has been “very compliant” with the terms of his release. Mills was allowed to remain free until his sentencing hearing.
Mills said he is currently in outpatient treatment for substance abuse.
He faces up to 14 years in prison.
No plea agreement was reached in this case.