Two former Minot nurses have pleaded not guilty to stealing prescribed drugs for hospice patients.

Kim Kochel and April Beckler are accused of thefts between December 2012 and September 2014 while working for Trinity Hospice. They each face three felony charges related to theft and endangering a vulnerable adult.

Attorneys had argued over whether the patients were "vulnerable adults" under state law. Judge Todd Cresap allowed the charge to stand.

Both women were reported to the North Dakota Board of Nursing in 2014 and voluntarily surrendered their licenses.

The Minot Daily News reports the charges against the two women carry a total maximum punishment of 20 years in prison. A pretrial conference in the case is scheduled for August.