A Phoenixville couple was arrested on multiple felony charges last week after police say they, over the course of at least 14 months, were systematically stealing narcotic pain medication from the woman’s father and replacing it with anti-diarrhea medicine.
According to court documents, on November 9, 2011, a Phoenixville man called East Pikeland Police to his Merlin Road residence to report that his pain medication had been disappearing.
The man, who was bedridden, told police that he believed his daughter, primary caregiver, and power of attorney Dana Vognetz, 37, had been stealing the medicine. The man said that Vognetz had passed out on top of him one day the week before, intoxicated.
Vognetz, speaking police in the driveway before they talked to her father, said her dad had been “confused” lately about his medicine.
Six months later, on April 29 of this year, police were again called to the residence. This time, the elderly man told police that his daughter had been missing for 24 hours and that he had not received any pain medicine since the previous day. Mike Vognetz, 35, Dana’s husband and the man’s son-in-law, told police he searched the house and couldn’t find any of the medicine, which included Fentanyl patches, Oxycodone, and Valium. Mike Vognetz eventually found several Fentanyl patches hidden in a closet that was only accessed by Dana Vognetz, and he told police he was unsure why the patches were there.
On December 7, police returned to the house again to conduct a well-being check on the man. They were accompanied by two advanced nursing care employees who had been assigned the previous year to take care of the man. One of the employees told police that she witnessed Dana Vognetz remove Oxycontin polls from her father’s medication and replace them with unknown white pills. The health care worker said this was a daily occurrence. Dana Vognetz, the worker added, had also begun splitting the pills in half so her father only got half doses. The worker said that the man is prescribed Oxycontin for pain management four times a day, but the prescription usually runs out mid-month, at which point Dana Vognetz just gives him Tylenol. The woman added that she’s also caught Dana Vognetz taking Fentanyl patches from her father. Both workers further alleged that Dana Vognetz wouldn’t allow her father to use the phone or open his own mail and fed him only cereal.
On January 27, police were called to the home again when the victim’s other daughter reported prescription medicine missing. A home health care worker then showed police the man’s box of pain medicine. Rather than the Oxycontin pills the man required, the box contained four halves of what police later determined were anti-diarrhea pills. The woman said the elderly man was in “a great deal of pain.”
While police were still at the residence, Mike and Dana Vognetz and their two children came home from dinner. Dana was intoxicated and went to bed. Mike spoke to police and admitted that the insurance company was giving them a difficult time with renewals for the pain medicine and since there was none left, he was replacing it with Imodium so his father-in-law would think he was getting the proper medication.
Mke and Dana Vognetz were charged on January 30 with identical felony counts of conspiracy to acquire or obtain possession of a controlled substance, acquiring possession of a controlled substance, and ten misdemeanor charges related to their neglect of the victim.
They face preliminary hearing on February 15.