Riverside

Former Hospital Worker Charged With Stealing High-Priced Surgical Gear

A former staffer at Riverside Community Hospital accused of stealing millions of dollars worth of surgical gear was charged Monday with multiple counts of grand theft.

Oscar Orlando Bernal, 38, of Moreno Valley was arrested Thursday following a six-month Riverside police investigation.

Along with seven counts of grand theft, Bernal is charged with a sentence-enhancing white collar crime allegation.

The defendant pleaded not guilty during an arraignment before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Emma Smith, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for Feb. 22 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

Bernal is being held in lieu of $3 million bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.

According to Riverside police Officer Ryan Railsback, detectives were alerted in May 2018 to possible theft of medical supplies at RCH, after administrators at the downtown facility conducted an audit to rectify accounting discrepancies.

Railsback said the audit focused mainly on large volumes of surgical staples -- valued at $2.9 million -- that had been ordered over a three-year period, but couldn't be located on the hospital grounds.

Bernal was identified as the person allegedly behind the procurement.

A warrant was obtained and served Thursday at his residence in the 11200 block of Showdown Lane, where "stolen medical supplies and additional evidence was recovered," Railsback alleged.

RCH spokeswoman Cherie Crutcher thanked investigators for being "diligent" and "very responsive" to hospital administrators since the time the audit was completed.

Bernal has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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