Surgery tech who raised concerns he may have infected patients with HIV gets 6 1/2 years in federal prison

DENVER (AP) — A surgery technician who pleaded guilty to taking fentanyl intended for patients at a suburban Denver hospital was sentenced Monday to more than six years in prison. 

The theft of the powerful painkiller by Rocky Allen, a former Navy medic who is HIV positive, raised concerns that hundreds of patients may have been exposed to the disease through possibly contaminated needles.

Allen was fired in January from Swedish Medical Center after another worker saw Allen switch a fentanyl syringe for one containing saline.

Allen was also fired from a series of hospitals around the West, including Washington, after being suspected of stealing syringes and was court-martialed for stealing drugs while serving in Afghanistan in 2011. He said he suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He was sentenced to 78 months’ prison.

In Washington, Allen was fired from Northwest Hospital in Seattle in 2012 after about 10 weeks, but a hospital spokesman declined to disclose the reason. He also had worked at Lakewood Surgery Center and Naval Hospital Bremerton. The hospitals said in March that they were testing patients to be safe.