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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Minnesota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 16, 2015

Matthew Peterson Sentenced After Pleading Guilty To Federal Charges For Stealing Prescription Opioids

United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger today announced the sentencing of MATTHEW RICHARD PETERSON, 39, who pleaded guilty to federal charges of fraudulently acquiring pain medication while he was employed as a paramedic. PETERSON was indicted on August 11, 2014, and pleaded guilty on November 7, 2014. He was sentenced today before Senior Judge David S. Doty in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minn.

“This defendant stole opioids to feed his own addiction, leaving vulnerable patients without the medicine they needed,” said U.S. Attorney Luger. “The charges in this case reflect our growing concern about the theft and abuse of opioids. I encourage those with an addiction – particularly caregivers and medical professionals – to seek help so they do not end up facing the type of criminal charges faced by Mr. Peterson.”

“Minnesota paramedic Mathew Peterson abused his position of public trust by providing diluted pain medication to those facing critical health emergencies to fuel his own drug addiction,” said Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dan Moren.  “Peterson’s reckless behavior not only denied patients relief from pain but also jeopardized their medical condition and potentially exposed them to contaminated medications. This joint investigation between DEA and the Federal Food and Drug Administration, with the assistance of the St. Paul Police Department, has eliminated this diversion of controlled substances and reduced the potential for further public harm.”

“The defendant in this case exhibited a complete disregard for the patients he victimized,” said Special Agent in Charge John J. Redmond of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, Chicago Field Office. “We will continue our work to ensure that those who tamper with patients’ pain medication for their own purposes are brought to justice. We commend our law enforcement partners for their efforts in this case as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for its prosecution of this matter.”

According to his guilty plea and documents filed in court, from August 2013 to November 5, 2013, PETERSON, who was then working as a paramedic for Allina Health, stole morphine and hydromorphone intended for ambulance patients. PETERSON extracted the drugs with a syringe and, in an effort to cover up his crime, replaced the liquid with a saline solution. PETERSON left more than 100 patients at greater risk of infection and pain as a result of his tampering, and only reported himself when co-workers discovered his malfeasance.

According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, on April 4, 2014, after his dismissal from both inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment, PETERSON was discovered hiding under a trailer in a Bloomington fire station where he was attempting to steal and use opioids. When questioned by law enforcement, PETERSON admitted that he accessed the fire station to steal drugs.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, and the St. Paul Police Department.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard A. Newberry.

On Tuesday, August 25, 2015, a conference entitled, “Pain.Pill.Problem.” will be held at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities Campus, to bring together experts in the fields of public health and law enforcement to define the scope of the opioid abuse problem and develop solutions to move Minnesota forward together. The one-day conference is co-sponsored by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Human Services, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy, Mayo Clinic, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, University of Minnesota, and others. Please contact usamn.outreach@usdoj.gov for more information about the event.

 

Defendant Information:

MATTHEW RICHARD PETERSON, 39

Richfield, Minn.

Convicted:

  • Obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, 1 count

Sentenced:

  • 3 years of probation, including:
    • Regular drug testing
    • Prohibited from having a job with access to controlled substances

 

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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600

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Updated July 16, 2015