For the second time this month, a member of the Unified Fire Authority has been arrested on suspicion of prescription drug charges.
UFA Fire Chief Michael Jensen confirmed that paramedic Bruce Bergdahl, 44, was arrested Wednesday in Box Elder County, where the 18-year employee lives. Jensen could not elaborate on his alleged crimes, since he had not had a chance to read any police reports.
A Box Elder County Jail employee said that Bergdahl was booked on three counts of forgery of a prescription.
“We are very, very disappointed. We’re shocked,” Jensen said.
As part of its routine checks, UFA became aware of irregularities and discrepancies concerning its supply of controlled substances and asked local law enforcement to investigate. Cottonwood Heights police have been looking into the alleged thefts from their fire stations and obtained drug histories for several employees.
But as far as Jensen knows, Bergdahl’s charges are not tied to the missing drugs. He added that investigators have given him a heads-up that they are looking into another UFA paramedic as well, though Jensen said that police have not told him who that employee is.
Bergdahl is the second member of UFA to be arrested after the initiation of the investigation. Earlier this month, assistant Chief Marlon Don Jones, 48, was charged in 3rd District Court with 14 third-degree felony counts of so-called “doctor shopping.”
A detective found that Jones had obtained a large number of prescriptions for several different controlled substances from pharmacies, including hydrocodone and carisoprodol, which are pain relievers, and zolpidem, a sleep aid, according to the charges. The prescriptions had been issued by three doctors, at least two of whom did not know Jones was receiving prescribed drugs from other physicians.
“It’s a human tragedy ... They were very valuable employees. They went out and risked their lives,” Jensen said. But during their off hours, they apparently got caught up in these issues, he said.
Jones and Bergdahl are on administrative leave until UFA determines what disciplinary action to take.