Ex-Washington Co. Deputy Accused of Stealing Drugs from 'Take-Back Bin'

Updated: 02/27/2013 4:38 PM KSTP.com By: Leslie Dyste

A former Washington County deputy has been charged with three felonies for allegedly taking prescription drugs from a secure 'take-back bin.'

Ricky Gruber, 43, was charged with drug possession, theft, and misconduct of a public officer.

According to a criminal complaint, video surveillance footage showed 43-year-old Ricky Gruber open the drug bin, and remove drugs from the 'drug drum.'

The drug take-back bin is a service that allows residents to drop off unwanted or unused medications and drugs, so authorities can safely dispose them. 

A sergeant at the Washington County Sheriff's Office noticed the bin was slightly ajar Jan. 28. He checked, and noticed the two locks on the bin were unlocked. He noticed the 'drug drum' that holds unused medications was missing. It did not appear the bin had been broken into, and he reported this to a commander.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office decided to investigate because they believed someone within the department was accessing the bin.

Investigators installed a video recording device near the drug cabinet.

When reviewing footage a detective noticed the bin was accessed by a deputy, later identified as Ricky Gruber, who should not have access to the bin. The footage showed Gruber take the 'drug drum' and then return it 13 minutes later.

The sheriff's office reported their findings to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Detectives continued surveillance and set up additional cameras in the area in February. The footage showed Gruber open the drug cabinet, and remove drugs from the 'drug drum.' It also showed him taking drugs before returning the bin.

Gruber was arrested and admitted he took drugs from the bin for 'personal use.' He said he had been researching a medical condition he had that was present during 'sexual intimacy.' He said he took the drugs to assist him with his medical condition. 

Gruber resigned from his position Feb. 12. He had been with the sheriff's office for 15 years.

Sheriff Bill Hutton tells KSTP.com they have made changes to the 'take-back bins' to prevent something like this from happening again. He would not reveal further details on the new security measures.