Former Grundy Care Center nursing director charged with stealing pills, falsifying documents

Laura Townsend-Edler

A Gladbrook woman who served as the Director of Nursing at the Grundy Care Center until 2015 is facing felony charges in Polk and Grundy Counties on allegations of using her position to illegally obtain opioids from her patients and falsifying paperwork to cover up the crime.

           

Following a lengthy investigation from the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Iowa Department of Inspection and Appeals, Laura Townsend-Edler, age 51, has been charged with Tampering With Records (an aggravated misdemeanor), Wanton Neglect of a Resident of a Health Care Facility (an aggravated misdemeanor), and two counts of Prohibited Act—Schedule I, II or III Controlled Substance, each a Class C felony.

           

Grundy County Sheriff Rick Penning told The Grundy Register that the Grundy Center Police Department initiated an investigation, which was later turned over to the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA), when the care center reported the theft of narcotics on June 23, 2015. A recently unsealed criminal complaint alleges that between June 1 and June 19 of that year, Edler stole hydrocodone, oxycodone and morphine from the facility, in the process denying a resident access to hydrocodone that a doctor had prescribed, and fabricated narcotics logs to conceal the theft from residents.  Shortly thereafter, Townsend-Edler and her employer mutually agreed to part ways, according to GCC Administrator John Freeman, and no criminal charges were filed at the time.

           

Penning went on to note that cases of medical administrators fraudulently obtaining prescription drugs have been extremely rare locally, even as the opioid epidemic has become something of a national crisis.

           

“It’s worse in other places,” he said. “I think we’ve had a couple reports of it, (but) I don’t know if we’ve ever proven it.”

           

Grundy Center Police Chief Doug Frost and County Attorney Erika Allen were unavailable for immediate comment, and DIA spokesman David Werning referred a request for comment to Allen’s office.

 

As first reported by KCCI, Townsend-Edler faces similar charges in Polk County, where she was most recently working as the DON at the Polk City Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. She turned herself in to Polk County authorities on July 24, posted a $24,000 bond and was released.

 

Townsend-Edler’s attorney, Holly Logan, appeared in court on her behalf on August 2, and a Polk County arraignment is scheduled for September 8. Prior to the current charges, she had no criminal record, and an attempt to reach her listed phone number was met with a notice that it had been disconnected. 

 

This story is developing, and more information will be included as it becomes available. To subscribe to the Grundy Register, call (319) 824-6958 or click here.