Hospital worker to be sentenced in hepatitis case

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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A woman infected with hepatitis C by a former hospital technician told him Monday that he handed her and others "a potential death sentence."

Linda Ficken, of Andover, Kan., addressed David Kwiatkowski, 34, at his sentencing in federal court in Concord, N.H.

Kwiatkowski admitted stealing painkillers and replacing them with saline-filled syringes tainted with his blood. He worked in 18 hospitals in seven states before being hired at New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital in 2011.

Prosecutors argued for a 40-year sentence, saying his conduct was "unbelievably cruel." In court documents filed last week, they said Kwiatkowski created a "national public health crisis," put a significant number of people at risk and caused substantial physical and emotional harm to a large number of victims.

Defense lawyers argued that a 30-year sentence would better balance the seriousness of the crimes against Kwiatkowski's mental and emotional problems and his addiction to drugs and alcohol, which they said clouded his judgment.

Kwiatkowski pleaded guilty in August to 16 federal drug charges.

Since his arrest last year, 46 people in New Hampshire, Maryland, Kansas and Pennsylvania have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C he carries; one has since died.

Authorities say hepatitis C, a blood-borne virus that can cause liver disease and chronic health problems, played a contributing role.

Kwiatkowski also worked in Michigan, New York, Arizona and Georgia.