TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A veteran paramedic resigned nearly two years ago after narcotics were allegedly stolen from Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, but the investigation has yet to result in charges against anyone.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Marco Villarreal said the probe is open and active and detectives are working “diligently to investigate and piece the case together.”
“It is important to our detectives that they have a case that portrays all the facts, evidence, and appropriate testimonies before submitting charges against any suspect,” Villarreal said.
The investigation began in July 2021 at Station 40, but officials have not said what types or quantities of drugs were involved. County protocol indicates rescue units have eight controlled substances on board, including morphine, valium, and fentanyl.
Paramedic and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Michael J. Reyer resigned from Hillsborough County Fire Rescue July 27, 2021, according to a letter obtained by 8 On Your Side. The resignation was submitted by Reyer the day after he was placed on administrative leave by the department.
The letter to Reyer from Chief Dennis Jones states Reyer was put on leave for “suspected theft of multiple narcotics.”
Reyer has not been charged. Multiple attempts to talk with Reyer have been unsuccessful.
Florida Department of Health records indicate Reyer has a clean records as a licensed paramedic and EMT. Neither of those licenses are currently active for Reyer, but he is still licensed as a registered nurse.
Defense attorney and former prosecutor Lee Pearlman did not discuss specifics about the Hillsborough County case, but he said many drug investigations can be wrapped up within a year.
“You don’t want cases to drag out for an extended period of time,” Pearlman said. “Witness memories start to fade. Evidence can break down or get lost. You don’t want to drag things out. You want to move forward.”
Villarreal said the sheriff’s office is confident its partnership with recently appointed State Attorney Susan Lopez will help investigators “move forward swiftly.” Villarreal said county residents and “potential victims” deserve justice.
County regulations include several safeguards to protect department narcotics that are meant for patients in pain.
An “inventory will be conducted in a face-to-face manner” during crew changes, according to the protocol. If a drug “is discovered to be missing or appears to have been tampered with,” immediate notification to department officers is required.