BOSTON, Nov. 9, 2012—A Boston paramedic was arraigned today on a 73-count indictment charging him with the theft of prescription drugs intended for the sick and injured, mainly from ambulances serving the City of Boston, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said today.
The indictments, returned by the Suffolk County Grand Jury on Oct. 31, charge BRIAN BENOIT (D.O.B. 7/28/72) of South Boston with one count of larceny by scheme and 26 counts of larceny of a controlled substance for allegedly stealing prescription painkillers and sedatives from more than 100 vials and syringes; 24 counts of creating a counterfeit substance for allegedly replacing some of those medications with other clear liquids; and 22 counts of manufacturing Class B, Class C, and Class E controlled substances for allegedly replacing some of those medications with different liquids, transforming the contents into different or diluted controlled substances.
Suffolk Superior Court Clerk Magistrate Gary Wilson did not impose monetary bail, but at the request of Assistant District Attorney Michele Granda ordered that Benoit allow himself to be fingerprinted and photographed by Boston Police and that he not work as a paramedic or emergency medical technician while the case is pending.
Granda said that Benoit had voluntarily submitted to testing for infectious diseases and had tested negative.
“The evidence suggests a violation of the trust the city placed in this defendant, an egregious breach of his ethics as a medical professional, and a shocking disregard for the safety and well-being of patients who relied on him,” Conley said. “We’d like to thank the Boston Public Health Commission, however, for their cooperation throughout the investigation that followed.”
The charged offenses took place last year, Granda said, when Boston Emergency Medical Services maintained nine so-called “drug boxes” that contained, among other things, vials and pre-loaded syringes containing the painkillers morphine and fentanyl and the sedatives lorazepam and midazolam. The boxes were stocked from the Boston Medical Center Pharmacy and stowed either aboard ambulances on active duty or in secure areas when the ambulances were not in service.
Benoit is accused of using his access to those drug boxes and the automated BMC Pharmacy dispensing machine to steal the contents of 106 vials and syringes containing the controlled substances between August and September 2011. Evidence developed in the grand jury suggests that he would in some cases steal the contents after the vials and syringes were dispensed by the pharmacy dispensing machine and before they could be placed in a drug box. In other cases, the evidence suggests, he would steal the contents from vials and syringes stowed in the secure storage facilities when ambulances were out of service, or from those stored onboard the ambulance while he was on duty.
Both the BMC Pharmacy and Boston EMS maintained constant records of the controlled substances, Granda said. Benoit allegedly evaded detection in some cases by falsely reporting the drugs as removed from the drug box for use on a medical call but destroyed when not used on the patient. In other circumstances, however, Benoit would allegedly replace the stolen medications with a different clear liquid.
Benoit’s alleged actions came to light as his behavior became unusual toward the end of summer 2011. After Benoit allegedly made incriminating statements to a co-worker about his use of EMS medications, supervisors at Boston EMS were notified.
That notification led Boston EMS to seize all controlled substances in drug boxes. After they were replaced with fresh medications, each vial and syringe was examined for tampering. The examinations, Granda said, showed that 40 vials of morphine, 45 vials of fentanyl, 10 vials of midazolam, and nine syringes of lorazepam had either a puncture hole or a broken seal, showing that someone had tampered with them. All of them had been refilled in part with another substance, usually saline, altering the composition and concentration of the labeled medication. Additionally, Benoit allegedly admitted to using the contents of two more vials. As a result, Benoit was relieved of all duty and has had no contact with patients since that time.
Benoit is represented by attorney Thomas Drechsler. He will return to court on Jan. 7 to set a trial date.
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.