Former Clallam County Fire District No. 3 employee charged in alleged narcotics theft

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

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SEQUIM — A former Clallam County Fire District No. 3 employee has been charged with burglary and theft after narcotics were discovered missing from the Sequim fire station.

Paul Merritt Rynearson, 40, of Sequim has been mailed a summons to appear in Superior Court on Dec. 6, according to court records .

Rynearson was charged Nov. 15 with one count each of second-degree burglary, a class B felony, and third-degree theft, a gross misdemeanor.

Police say he took painkillers from the Sequim fire station two separate times in mid-September and early October.

Rynearson, a 14-year firefighter/paramedic with the fire district, sent in a letter of resignation Oct. 15, Fire Chief Steve Vogel has said.

Rynearson will receive pay and medical benefits until the end of this month, Vogel said.

Rynearson declined Saturday to comment.

“Until I speak with an attorney, I think it'd be a good idea to hold off,” he said.

A Sequim police report said Rynearson told Detective Sgt. Sean Madison he took a small plastic box containing painkillers from the station's narcotics locker on or about Sept. 19 with the intent of using the drugs for himself.

The drugs were reported missing Oct. 1, according to Vogel, after a routine inventory and subsequent search by fire district personnel.

Rynearson was placed on paid administrative leave Oct. 3 for reasons unrelated to the missing drugs, Vogel has said.

After being placed on leave, Rynearson was not allowed on fire district property, police said.

More drugs were reported missing Oct. 6.

Vogel has said the missing medication is likely worth between $10 and $15.

Madison's investigative report gave the following account of Rynearson's alleged early October theft of drugs from the fire station:

In a Nov. 7 interview with Madison, Rynearson said he was on his way to seek addiction treatment on late Oct. 5 or early Oct. 6 when he stopped at the fire station to steal morphine.

A fire district employee confronted Rynearson, knowing he was not supposed to be at the station, and Rynearson left.

Another district employee then received a text message from Rynearson in which he said he had stolen morphine from a narcotics box stored in one of the emergency vehicles parked in the station.

District employees called the police after the theft was confirmed about 2 hours after Rynearson had first come to the station.

Police searched for Rynearson and found he had gone to the Seattle area and checked into an addiction treatment facility.

In the interview with Madison, Rynearson said he got into the fire station by guessing the security access code, which had been changed after Rynearson was put on administrative leave.

After Rynearson accessed a medical bag inside one of the station's emergency vehicles, he injected himself with one syringe of morphine after accidentally spraying out another.

Rynearson told Madison he replaced the morphine with saline from the same medical bag to hide his theft but warned his former colleagues with a text message so a patient would not accidentally be injected with saline.


Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at

Last modified: November 24. 2013 12:33AM
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