HIV-Positive Surgery Tech Pleads Guilty In Painkiller Theft

A hospital surgery technician accused of stealing painkiller syringes, possibly exposing patients to HIV, has pleaded guilty to federal charges in Denver.

Rocky Allen pleaded guilty Tuesday to tampering with a consumer product and obtaining a controlled substance by deception for taking a syringe containing fentanyl from a suburban Denver hospital in January. He faces up to 14 years in prison when he's sentenced in October.

Allen's change of plea came about a month after prosecutors announced he has HIV as they urged surgical patients at Swedish Medical Center to be tested.

Authorities fear Allen may have replaced fentanyl needles intended for patients with syringes he previously used, making infection possible. Authorities haven't announced any cases of transmission, although about 500 of the nearly 3,000 patients asked to get free testing in Colorado haven't done so.