Unified Fire paramedic charged with prescription fraud
Courts • Prosecutors allege paramedic got prescriptions from multiple doctors.
Published: August 7, 2013 09:25PM
Updated: August 7, 2013 05:13PM

A paramedic of the Unified Fire Authority was charged late last month with three counts of prescription fraud after he failed to disclose to his doctor that he was receiving prescriptions from other physicians, court documents state.

Bruce Bergdahl, 44, will appear in 1st District Court in Box Elder County at the end of August, at which time he will be arraigned on charges of falsely obtaining prescriptions. The third-degree felonies each carry up to five years in prison.

According to court documents, Bergdahl received prescription drugs on three dates since the beginning of the year from a doctor to whom he did not disclose the fact that he was already receiving medication from other physicians.

Bergdahl is the second member of the UFA to face drug-related charges in state court in recent months.

He has been placed on paid administrative leave since the charges were filed on July 25, said UFA Fire Chief Michael Jensen. Future decisions regarding Bergdahl’s employment status will depend on how his case plays out in court, Jensen said.

“We presume he’s innocent until proven guilty,” Jensen said. “I need to see, officially, what the true story is and then wade through all of those facts before we can decide what we’re going to do.”

Bergdahl has been employed by Unified Fire for 18 years. His alleged drug problems were discovered during an investigation by Cottonwood Heights police into missing controlled substances in the UFA supply.

As part of their investigation, Cottonwood Heights investigators began looking into the drug histories of UFA employees. Jensen has emphasized that Bergdahl’s charges are not tied to the missing drugs.

Bergdahl’s appearance is scheduled three weeks after Assistant Chief Marlon Don Jones, 48, appeared before a 3rd District Court judge on 14 charges of so-called “doctor shopping.”

The alleged crimes of the two men are unrelated.

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.

Both men are eligible — and will receive — substance abuse treatment and help through UFA’s employee services, Jensen said.

“We try to work with our employees,” Jensen said. “These two have both asked for help, so we’re getting them the help that they need. What we want is to change the behavior.”

mlang@sltrib.com

Twitter: marissa_jae