A Stafford Township man has been arrested and charged with stealing prescription narcotics from the hospital where he works as a nurse.

Seth J. Kaplan, 42, was arrested as the result of an investigation by detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office's newly formed Special Operations Group, Southern Enforcement Unit. They were assisted by the Stafford Township Police Department.

Authorities stopped Kaplan at 9:15 p.m. Monday while he driving his 2010 Cadillac STS at Neptune Drive and Nautilus Boulevard in the Ocean Acres section of Stafford Township.

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Police searched his vehicle and found syringes filled with liquid hydromorphine and morphine sulfate, along with a pill bottle containing various prescription pills, officials said. Detectives then searched Kaplan's residence and found additional drugs. As a result of the searches, police said they seized 32 syringes containing differing amounts of highly potent hydromorphine, morphine sulfate, Demoral (meperdine) and diazepam injections.

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said the investigation revealed that Kaplan is a registered nurse at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold, Monmouth County. It is alleged that Kaplan removed the narcotics on various occasions from the hospital and possibly a second area hospital while working as a nurse.

Kaplan faces various charges of possession and intent to distribute the drugs.

"The strength and amounts of narcotics Kaplan was selling could easily cause death in the hands of those not trained to administer it correctly," said Coronato, who launched an initiative in April to fight drug use in the county. "I want this to serve as a warning to all health care professionals that we are actively on the hunt for those who would betray their professional positions to profit from the illegal sale of prescription narcotics."

Ocean County Superior Court Judge Rochelle Gizinski set Kaplan's bail at $30,000 with no 10 percent option. Kaplan is lodged in Ocean County jail in Toms River.

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