An ICU patient is charged with selling heroin from her hospital bed. Lori Sullenberger, age 38, is accused of selling at least 30 bags of heroin while hospitalized at the Excela Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
Medical staff became suspicious, as Sullenburger had numerous cell phones and an extraordinary number of guests. Hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Miele said a majority of the visitors left within five minutes. The staff was also concerned, as some of the guests did not know Sullenburger's last name.
The hospital contacted the Greensburg Police Department with their concerns. Captain Chad Zucco said he and his staff arranged a sting operation, using a confidential informant.
As a result of the investigation, authorities determined that the ICU patient was actively selling heroin from her hospital bed. Zucco discusses the evidence:
"The confidential informant was able to purchase approximately 30 bags of heroin from her. In a subsequent search of her person and her room, they were able to confiscate 380 bags of heroin, approximately $3,800 street value."Authorities said Sullenburg hid the heroin inside her purse and throughout her hospital room. In addition to the drugs, investigators seized nearly $1,500 cash.
As reported by WTAE, the ICU patient is charged with felony "possession with intent to deliver and unlawful delivery of a controlled substance." She was also charged with several misdemeanor crimes, including possession of drug paraphernalia.
Authorities have also charged the patient's boyfriend, Jason Bates, and friend Robert Rearick. Both men reportedly purchased heroin from Sullenburger while she was hospitalized.
Zucco said the incident was " definitely one of the more unique cases" he has ever seen. However, the case underlines the city's struggle with drug addiction and crime.
Miele said there are three Excela hospitals in Westmoreland County. Unfortunately, drugs are an ongoing issue:
"Not only do we have this incident, but day after day we have patients being treated in all three of our emergency room facilities. People who are overdosing. It's very disturbing."Although she was feeling healthy enough to sell heroin from her hospital bed, Sullenburger remains hospitalized. Authorities confirmed the ICU patient is suffering from an illness, which is unrelated to the incident.
Sullenburger's case underlines the desperation associated with the sale and use of illegal drugs. The patient is genuinely ill, but it was not enough to stop her from selling drugs.
As reported by The Wire, the ICU patient has prior charges for drug related crimes. In addition to selling heroin from her hospital bed, Sullenburger has an open case for selling "clean" urine to drug addicts.