LOGAN — An employee at an assisting living center in Logan has been charged with stealing hundreds of pain pills from patients for her own use, according to prosecutors.
Tasha Marie Alvarado, 32, of Logan, was charged Thursday in Cache County's 1st District Court with burglary, a second-degree felony, three counts of theft, a class B misdemeanor, and five counts of drug possession, a class A misdemeanor. Her initial court appearance is scheduled for Monday.
The inquiry began when an investigator with the Cache-Rich County Drug Task Force received a report that a resident at the Legacy House Assisted Living of Logan had had nearly 200 hydrocodone pills stolen since Jan. 22, according to a Cache County Jail booking report.
"The victim stated she doesn’t know who is doing it, but the pills seem to go missing whenever she leaves her room for an extended period of time," the report states.
Investigators decided to install a hidden camera in the woman's room, the report states.
On Tuesday, the woman reported that six more pills were missing. The investigator reviewed the video recording and watched a nurse enter the room and go "straight to where the victim stores her medications and proceeds to open the prescription bottle and put the pills in her left hand. The female nurse then meticulously places the clothing back on top of the prescription bottle as to make it appear nothing has been moved, then quickly exits the victim’s room," according to the report.
When the video was presented to the nursing director, she immediately identified the nurse in the room as Alvarado, "a Med-Tech CNA (who) has been employed with the Legacy House for about 10 years," the report states.
On Wednesday, Alvarado was questioned at the Logan City Police Department.
"Tasha was asked what she would do with the pills and she stated she would use some of them and sell others," the report states.
In her purse, police found pills that two other patients were supposed to get and that she was responsible for administering.
Alexandra Cepedes says the woman who helped raised her, who she considers an aunt, was one of the residents whose pills were allegedly stolen by Alvarado.
She said her aunt was well taken care of at the clinic, but then family members noticed something was off and realized someone was taking her pills.
They went to the Cache and Rich County Drug Task Force for help.
"We wanted to catch her in the act, and we wanted to expose this. … We knew if she was abusing my aunt, that she was going to be abusing other patients too," Cepedes said.
When she learned Alvarado is believed to be the person who stole the pills, Cepedes said, "It's so sad."
Her aunt considers Alvarado a friend. But Cepedes said, "No friend of mine would do that."