A former Washington County Deputy has been charged with felony drug theft and faces other drug charges after allegedly stealing from a county prescription drug drop-off box.
Ricky Harry Gruber, 43, of Oakdale was charged on Feb. 27 with felony drug possession, two counts of felony theft, misconduct of a public officer and unlawful possession of a prescription drug, according to the criminal complaint.
The prescription drug drop-off boxes are meant for the public to dispose of unwanted or unused prescription medications in a safe manner.
On Jan. 25, a deputy noticed one of the drug drop-off boxes was ajar and there was no forced entry. One of the drug drums was missing from the box. On Jan. 28 the same deputy took a spare drum from storage to put in the drop-off box and found that it was locked once again with a half-full drum. There had been no public activity with the drop-off box since Jan. 25.
The deputy reported his findings to his superiors and they privately installed security cameras near the drug cabinet.
On Feb. 6, one of the security cameras for the Sheriff's Office drop-off box showed Gruber removing items from the drop-off box. After seeing this, members of the Sheriff's Office installed additional cameras.
On Feb. 12, a live feed camera showed Gruber opening the drop-off box and taking drugs into his office. Sheriff's deputies arrested Gruber at the scene and took him in for questioning.
Only select personnel were allowed access to the drop-off boxes. Gruber was never authorized to have a key to the drop-off box, the complaint states.
The complaint states that Gruber admitted to stealing drugs from the bin for personal use. He said he had been taking drugs for the past few months and had been in the drug bins more than six times.
He also said he was taking the drugs for his medical conditions, according to the complaint.
Deputies searched Gruber's office and his truck and found almost 300 prescription pills.
Gruber, who worked on special projects, resigned from his post earlier this month. He was hired to the sheriff's office in 1997 and served on the narcotics team from 2004-2009, according to the Pioneer Press.
Sheriff Bill Hutton told the Pioneer Press that he was "extremely disappointed and embarrassed as an organization," adding that his department was taking serious measures to "tighten things up."
Prescription drug drop-off boxes are located at the Sheriff's Office, the Washington County Cottage Grove Service Center and the Washington County Headwaters Service Center in Forest Lake.
Gruber's first appearance in court is May 15.