Springfield, MO

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Local EMT pleads guilty to stealing opioids

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A local paramedic and EMT yesterday admitted in federal court he stole opioid-based drugs.

Zachary McCleary, 30, of Springfield, pleaded guilty to two counts of tampering with a consumer product, according to a news release from the office of Timothy Garrison, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

Between September 2015 and February 2018, McCleary worked as a paramedic for CoxHealth in Springfield, Mercy in Carthage and Barton County Emergency Medical Service. He also worked as an EMT for Grove Emergency Medical Service in Oklahoma.

McCleary admitted that, while working at Barton County EMS, he tampered with vials that contained fentanyl and morphine sulfate by removing the drugs and replacing them with saline solution. Individuals who received emergency medical service from Barton County EMS filed 18 separate adverse event reports when the drugs given to them for pain relief did not work because of McCleary’s tampering, according to the release.

In yesterday’s guilty plea, McCleary also admitted he tampered with vials containing fentanyl and morphine sulfate — replacing them with saline solution — while working at CoxHealth.

Under federal statutes, McCleary may face up to 10 years in federal prison without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled following the presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office, according to the release.

Earlier this month, former Mercy Hospital Springfield pharmacy technician Marc Musil was separately indicted for allegedly stealing fentanyl and morphine.


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