Traveling nurse accused of drug crimes

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A 37-year-old traveling registered nurse accused of fraudulently obtaining prescription painkillers from Hilo Medical Center for her own personal use has been extradited from the mainland to face 15 felony charges.

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A 37-year-old traveling registered nurse accused of fraudulently obtaining prescription painkillers from Hilo Medical Center for her own personal use has been extradited from the mainland to face 15 felony charges.

Trisha Ramirez of Hesperia, Calif., pleaded not guilty Friday to five counts each of promoting a dangerous drug, drug paraphernalia and obtaining controlled substances by deception or fraud.

According to police, those substances included meperidine, hydromorphone, morphine and fentanyl, which are opioid or synthetic opioid painkillers, and the alleged offenses took place in March 2013.

Family Court Judge Henry Nakamoto ordered Ramirez to appear for trial at 9 a.m. June 15 before Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura.

Ramirez was indicted in November by a Hilo grand jury and her bail was set at $30,000.

Deputy Prosecutor Shannon Kagawa argued that bail should be maintained.

“The state’s … concerned in that the alleged incident in this case occurred while she was employed and that the alleged drugs were regarding her employment,” she said. “The other concern is that Ms. Ramirez, at this time, is probably a traveling nurse and this occurred in Hawaii while she was a traveling nurse. … It sounds like she’s been in California and possibly in Illinois since November of 2014, so she’s not been in the state of Hawaii.”

Ramirez’s attorney, Damir Kouliev, told the judge the Department of Public Safety’s Intake Service Center recommended supervised release for Ramirez instead of bail. He also noted Ramirez had “no prior criminal record, at least that’s not traffic-related” and that the alleged offenses are from two years ago.

“Quite frankly, your Honor, the pre-indictment delay in this case is inexcusable,” he said. “Ms. Ramirez couldn’t have possibly been expected to hang around and wait for … indictment when she was released (from police custody) pending investigation. She was here on her own before, and she wanted to go back to her family.”

Kouliev said Ramirez, an Army veteran and mother of two, was in custody 18 days awaiting extradition to Hawaii, and has been “extremely cooperative” with investigators.

“She does not want to subject herself to this type of experience again. It’s been harrowing, to say the least,” he said.

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Nakamoto granted Ramirez supervised release over the prosecution’s objections.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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