North Dakota nursing home employee charged for theft and distribution of prescription drugs from residents

A southwest North Dakota woman has been arrested for her alleged involvement in stealing pain medication from a nursing home in Hettinger, N.D. Adams County Sheriff Jordan Fisher announced that his department launched an investigation into the matter, and has requested the assistance of the North Dakota BCI, federal DEA and ND Board of Health.

Western Horizons
Western Horizons Care Center in Hettinger, N.D. is pictured.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press
We are part of The Trust Project.

HETTINGER, N.D. — The Adams County narcotics division arrested Karen Woodbury, 36, of Bowman, on Wednesday, Sept. 21 for her alleged theft of prescription opioids from nursing home residents for illegal profit and personal use.

Woodbury was an employee of Western Horizons Care Center, where the alleged crimes occurred.

Karen Woodbury mugshot
Bowman resident Karen Woodbury, 36, allegedly stole prescription pain medication from residents at the nursing home where she worked.
Contributed / Southwest Multi-County Correctional Center

Court documents obtained by The Dickinson Press outline that Woodbury is alleged to have committed these offenses between Aug. 23 and Sept. 8, 2022.

Adams County State’s Attorney Aaron Roseland has formally charged Woodbury with possession of a schedule II controlled substance (Oxycodone), a class B felony, and theft of property, class C felony. She remains in custody at the Southwest Multi County Correctional Center in Dickinson on a $50,000 cash bond.

In a video statement, Adams County Sheriff Jordan Fisher said that owing to the complexity of the alleged crimes his agency has requested the assistance of the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the ND Board of Health — each having launched their own independent investigations as of this report.


Wester Horizons 2
A Western Horizons Living Centers building is pictured.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

According to Fisher, the investigations have produced additional leads on other suspects and he expects to conduct further arrests in the coming days. Fisher offered harsh words to those who traffic illicit substances within his jurisdiction.

“I have said it multiple times, but the drug dealers don't seem to be getting it. I would like to make it simple,” Fisher said. “You have two choices. One, you can immediately leave Adams County; or two, you take your chances in Adams County. If you choose the latter, I guarantee you we will find you, arrest you and make you famous on the internet. If you haven't learned by now, my staff is very good at what they do.”

The prepared statement was posted as both a press release and video on the department's Facebook page on Tuesday, and a subsequent update provided a disclaimer noting that all accused are presumed innocent.

“I forgot to state the obvious. As we have always said, all parties mentioned are innocent until proven guilty by a jury of their peers,” the update states.

The Adams County Sheriff's Office preemptively notified the public that due to the ongoing state and federal investigations, the department would make no further comments related to the incident at this time.

According to the official criminal complaint filed by Roseland, Woodbury could face up to 10 years of incarceration, a $20,000 fine, or both for the aforementioned class B felony. She is tentatively scheduled to appear before Southwest District Court Judge William Herauf for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 3.

Western Horizons is a subsidiary of West River Health Services, which also runs the city’s critical access hospital. In a phone interview with The Press, West River’s Interim President and CEO Seth Fisher said his company has taken great strides to cooperate with law enforcement and remains committed to providing quality care to its patients and residents. Fisher said there is no indication that any patients or residents were directly involved in the alleged crimes.

“Our facility has and continues to follow established policies and procedures that are congruent with federal regulation,” Fisher said. “The silver lining in this unfortunate situation is that we have no evidence or anything concrete to prove that there was any direct negative outcome, or any direct involvement, with the residents specifically.”


Adams County Sheriff
An Adams County Sheriff's Dept vehicle is pictured.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press
More by Jason O'Day
The Dickinson Police Department announced that Southwest Narcotics Task Force agents have discovered methamphetamine that is being laced with an opioid, possibly fentanyl. A recent string of narcotic overdoses in the Dickinson area has prompted the police to issue a public advisory on the outbreak.

Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in rural southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge.
What to read next
North Dakota now captures 95% of natural gas, the vast amount of which comes from oil wells, but still stands out as a major source of flaring, which releases climate-warming methane.
Three passengers were transported to a hospital with minor injuries.
A North Dakota Department of Transportation employee was seriously hurt last week when he was hit by a car while repairing a cable median barrier.
Review by North Dakota's assistant Attorney General found no wrongdoing