After infecting 16 patients with hepatitis C, former surgery technician pleaded guilty to federal drug charges in Denver on Friday and has been sentenced 20 years in prison.
The 26-year-old woman, Kristen Diane Parker pleaded guilty to five counts of tampering with a consumer product and five counts of obtaining a controlled substance by deceit or subterfuge. The prosecutors dropped the more serious charges, in exchange for a plea agreement, according to the Associated Press.
Parker stole hospital syringes to feed a drug habit and replaced them with those filled with saline at Denver's Rose Medical Center and Colorado Springs' Audubon Surgery Center. She has tested positive for hepatitis C.
Gregory Graf, Parker's attorney has said her client wishes to take responsibility for her actions and was "devastated" when notified that some of the patients had tested positive for hepatitis C.
The two articles reported Parker was quiet and terse in court, answering only yes and no in response to the judge's questions. However, her sentence would have been up to life if not for her cooperation with authorities during the summer, according the New York Times. Investigations have been opened in two other hospitals in Mount Kisco, N.Y., and in Houston where Parker has worked in the past.
Hepatitis C is an incurable disease that causes liver problems with symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, pain and jaundice, according to the AP.