2 paramedics ac­cused of tak­ing dis­carded drugs

The Buffalo News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Dale An­der­son and Stephen T. Wat­son

Two Town of Ton­awanda paramedics were sus­pended pend­ing ter­mi­na­tion pro­ceed­ings Mon­day by the Ton­awanda Town Board af­ter they were ac­cused of al­legedly tak­ing dis­carded pre­scrip­tion drugs from a drug de­posit con­tainer in the town’s po­lice head­quar­ters.

A news re­lease from Ton­awanda Po­lice Lt. Thomas Haynes iden­ti­fied them as Jon Cinelli, 52, and Jeremy Pec­o­raro, 40.

Haynes said the two were ar­rested Fri­day night on sus­pi­cion of crim­i­nal pos­ses­sion of a con­trolled sub­stance and that they were sus­pended with pay.

Haynes stated it was be­lieved the two were al­legedly keep­ing the drugs for per­sonal use.

Cinelli was sus­pected, Haynes said, af­ter it was no­ticed that he was emp­ty­ing the drug de­posit bin alone. Po­lice de­part­ment pol­icy re­quires that two paramedics per­form the task, Haynes ex­plained.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion then al­legedly im­pli­cated Pec­o­raro, he said.

Cinelli has been a town para­medic for 22½ years, while Pec­o­raro has been on the staff for 4½ years.

Ton­awanda Su­per­vi­sor Joseph Em­minger said that the ac­cu­sa­tions against the two paramedics were trou­bling be­cause they pro­vide emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices to the pub­lic and, as part of their du­ties, they have ac­cess to painkillers and other med­i­ca­tion.

“In light of the fact that they carry opi­oids in their para­medic ve­hi­cles, we would find it very dif­fi­cult to re­turn them to their po­si­tions,” he said.

Em­minger spoke af­ter Mon­day’s Town Board meet­ing, where mem­bers passed a res­o­lu­tion au­tho­riz­ing the su­per­vi­sor or po­lice chief to take dis­ci­plinary ac­tion against the two em­ploy­ees. The res­o­lu­tion was not on the board meet­ing agenda that is posted for pub­lic re­view prior to the meet­ing, but was brought up for ac­tion dur­ing the meet­ing.

It was the sec­ond in­ci­dent within the past year in­volv­ing the theft of drugs from drop boxes in po­lice sta­tions in Ken­more and Ton­awanda.

For­mer Ken­more Po­lice Chief Peter J. Bre­it­nauer was ar­rested in Oc­to­ber for tak­ing hy­drocodone from a drop box in the vil­lage po­lice sta­tion.

He pleaded guilty in Jan­uary to a mis­de­meanor charge in U.S. District Court.

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