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Nurse Accused Of Stealing Painkiller Gets Probation

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A former nurse charged with stealing drugs from one of her surgery patients will serve no prison time, as part of a plea deal struck Thursday in Hennepin County Court.

Sarah Casareto was accused of stealing her patient's pain medication before surgery last fall so she could have it herself.

The 33-year old nurse from Forest Lake was sentenced to three years probation as part of the plea deal. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors reduced Casareto's charge of theft to possession. This means, presuming she doesn't do drugs or drink during probation, her criminal record will be wiped completely clean in three years.

The alleged victim told us he sees what happens today as a big slap on the wrist.

"It's hard to talk about," Bloomington resident Larry King said.

Abott Northwestern hospital logs show Casareto took 500 micrograms of fentanyl from storage. Police say Casareto gave King, who works as a Carver County Deputy Sheriff, only one-third of the medication he was supposed to have before kidney stone surgery.

"I can't really describe what it's like laying on that table when they cut you open, and you can hear and feel everything that they're doing to you," King said. "I don't believe justice was served. The same penalty that a child on the street with some crack cocaine gets is what she walked out the door with today."

King said he remembers Casareto telling him to "man up," appearing visibly intoxicated during surgery.

"My client didn't do what they said she did. This is an Alford Plea; this is a plea where we simply state that, yes, we will plead guilty to avoid the risk of a trial and a conviction," Casareto's attorney Brian Toder said.

Toder continued to point to his client's innocence, saying he's convinced Casareto would have been acquitted in the event the case went to trial.

"There's going to be a dismissal, and Sarah can go back to being the good nurse that she is," Toder said.

Casareto declined to comment.

The judge said the decision was made because he said Casareto proved to be undergoing treatment, she was sober since February and this was her first offense.

As for what's next, King's attorney said he'll likely sue Casareto in civil court.

Casareto's attorney says the nurse plans to go in front of the state nursing board and attempt to get her license back.

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