WILLMAR, Minn. - A former nurse pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony drug possession charge for stealing medications prescribed to residents of a New London nursing home.

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Mary Elizabeth Prigge, 39, formerly of Belgrade, pleaded guilty Tuesday to an amended felony third-degree drug charge - possession of 50 or more dosages of a narcotic mixture. The charge stems from an August investigation at Glen Oaks Care Center in New London.

According to the criminal complaint on the charges, an investigation found that a total of 179 hydrocodone and nine oxycodone pills had been swapped for over-the-counter Tylenol. A bottle of liquid morphine and eight anxiety pills also were reportedly missing from the care center.

The complaint alleged that 17 residents were affected.

During Tuesday’s plea hearing, Prigge admitted she had replaced Vicodin pills with Tylenol and kept the Vicodin pills. As she burst into tears, Prigge said that she started taking the pills as a way to cope with her mother’s death.

As part of a plea deal, the felony may be reduced to a misdemeanor conviction if she successfully completes probation. Sentencing has been scheduled for July 27 in Kandiyohi County District Court.