SHAMOKIN - A former nurse at Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital has been charged with stealing prescription medication from patients during her shifts earlier in the year.

Nicole Pancher, 31, of 336 N. Hickory St., Mount Carmel, was charged with acquisition or obtaining possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge, possession of a controlled substance, unlawful acts to procure drugs and theft by unlawful taking. The charges were filed jointly by Coal Township Police Det. Jeffrey Brennan and Agent Duane Musser of the state Attorney General's office.

According to court documents, Geisinger officials were alerted to the missing medication on Jan. 15, when a patient questioned a nursing supervisor on why he was being given two Percocet tablets when his previous nurse, Pancher, only gave him one. Authorities searched automated dispensing records which showed Pancher removed two tablets from the machine and indicated she gave both of them to the patient.

On Feb. 5, a nurse said Pancher asked her to sign off on a "waste of medication" form, even though the nurse did not see the waste.

When Geisinger officials questioned Pancher about the two incidents, she allegedly said she had taken Oxycodone from the hospital for her personal use.

In May, Pancher was interviewed by Brennan and Musser and allegedly detailed her methods for getting the medication, including offering pills to patients she knew would refuse the medication and then keeping it for herself and removing from the automated dispenser pills for sleeping patients and then not administering them.

Authorities said Pancher allegedly only took medication administered on an "as needed" basis, and that no patients suffered from her alleged actions.

Geisinger spokesperson Wendy Wilson said Friday that Pancher was not employed by the health system as of Feb. 6.

Pancher was arraigned on the charges June 6 before Magisterial District Judge John Gembic III, of Shamokin, and was released on $5,000 unsecured bail. Pancher waived all the charges during a preliminary hearing before Gembic Tuesday.

Pancher will appear for plea court on Monday, Aug. 26, at the Northumberland County Courthouse, Sunbury, where she can plead guilty or no contest, or seek a trial by pleading not guilty.