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Former Wash. ambulance trainee pleads to narcotics possession

Capsules of fentanyl appeared to have been drilled into with a needle, some of the narcotic fluids removed, and the fluid levels restored with some other liquid


By Jefferson Robbins
The Wenatchee World

WENATCHEE, Wash. — An aspiring emergency medical tech who fell under suspicion when powerful painkillers disappeared from ambulance supplies pleaded guilty Wednesday to illicit drug possession.

Jeffrey Aaron Just, 38, was sentenced to 60 days in jail and a year’s probation. Chelan County Superior Court Judge Alicia Nakata said she’d allow half his jail time to be served on a supervised work crew. 

Just, of East Wenatchee, entered pleas to one charge each of unlawful possession of morphine and unlawful possession of fentanyl. The latter drug is a fast-acting synthetic opioid about 80 times more potent than morphine, used in cases of traumatic pain.

Just was initially charged with 10 counts of illicit drug possession — six counts of morphine possession, four of fentanyl — after drugs turned up missing from supplies held by Ballard Ambulance. He was never charged with their theft.

The narcotics were stored in on-board boxes accessible by inputting a code. Drug supplies at Ballard’s Wenatchee and East Wenatchee stations showed evidence of tampering beginning in December 2014; Wenatchee police began investigating when the drug losses expanded in January 2015, court records show.

Just was seeking a job with Ballard and had begun a series of ride-alongs with its EMTs. During his ride-along period, he was given the code to the drug supply boxes, police said.

Police said capsules of fentanyl appeared to have been drilled into with a hypodermic needle, some of the narcotic fluids removed, and the fluid levels restored with some other liquid substance. Drugs stored in Carpuject syringes, which are designed for easy use and cataloging by EMTs or hospital staff, were also affected.

After a lengthy investigation, police sought charges against Just last November. At his plea Wednesday, Just’s attorney Jeremy Ford said his client has already completed a three-week inpatient chemical dependency program at Sundown M Ranch in Yakima.

Just, a former emergency medicine student, was convicted of prescription forgery three times from 2000 to 2002, but those convictions were vacated by court order in 2014 and 2015 after he complied with all terms of his sentences. As a result, Just’s 60-day sentence does not reflect his prior felonies. He must also pay $1,600 in fines and court costs.

Copyright 2016 The Wenatchee World

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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