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Trial date set for accused 'serial infector'

| Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, 9:30 p.m.

CONCORD, N.H. — A traveling hospital technologist accused of stealing drugs and infecting patients with hepatitis C through contaminated syringes pleaded not guilty to the charges in federal court on Monday.

David Kwiatkowski, whom prosecutors describe as a “serial infector,” was indicted last week on charges of tampering with a consumer product and illegally obtaining drugs.

Kwiatkowski said only “yes” when asked in court if he understood his rights. His trial was scheduled for the first week of February, although U.S. Attorney John Kacavas said it probably would take place later in the year.

Kacavas could not say how much federal prison time Kwiatkowski could get if convicted but said prosecutors will seek a substantial sentence. He said the investigation continues, and further charges against Kwiatkowski could not be ruled out.

Until May, Kwiatkowski worked as a cardiac technologist at Exeter Hospital, where 32 patients were diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C he carries. Before that, he worked in 18 hospitals in seven states, moving from job to job despite having been fired twice over allegations of drug use and theft.

Kwiatkowski is believed to have infected several patients in the months he worked as a radiology technician at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in 2008. Ten patients filed a class-action lawsuit in Allegheny County in October against UPMC and the Maryland-based staffing company it used, claiming that they enabled Kwiatkowski to inject himself with narcotics-filled syringes and leave the needles –— filled with saline — to be used on other patients.

In Exeter, Kwiatkowski is accused of stealing fentanyl, injecting himself, then re-filling the tainted syringes with saline to be used on patients.

Trib Total Media contributed to this report.

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