Former paramedic convicted of stealing fentanyl, tampering with patient drugs

A former paramedic was convicted of nearly 40 felony counts alleging he stole fentanyl and left tampered vials that could have been used on patients.

Jason Laut, 40, of O’Fallon, was convicted Monday on 38 counts by a federal jury. He had been charged with six counts of wire fraud, 29 counts of falsifying narcotics logs, two counts of aggravated identity theft and one count of tampering with fentanyl, which is a powerful painkiller often prescribed for end-stage cancer patients and frequently found on the black market, mixed with heroin.

Prosecutors said that while Laut was employed as a paramedic supervisor with the MedStar ambulance company, he would withdraw fentanyl from vials by inserting a needle through the tamper-resistant packaging, and would then replace it with water or saline. Then he would leave the tampered vials on the ambulances, which might have caused them to be used on patients as other paramedics were unaware of the tampering.

Laut also was accused of altering and falsifying documents to cover up his fentanyl and morphine thefts, which numbered at least 91 instances in addition to the tampered fentanyl bottles, prosecutors said.

The wire-fraud charges related to using Laut’s administrator access to alter patient care reports, according to a statement from prosecutors. In some instances, prosecutors said, he claimed to have given fentanyl or morphine to patients who did not exist. In other cases, he claimed to have administered the drugs and pocketed them instead, or falsified a doctor’s name on authorization orders after he no longer worked at Memorial Hospital, which was responsible for the drug supply.

Laut now faces up to 20 years on each of the six counts of wire fraud; up to 5 years in prison on each of the 29 counts alleging falsified records; two years on each of two counts of aggravated identity theft; and up to 10 years on the sole count of tampering with a consumer product. Each of the 38 charges also carries a fine up to $250,000.

Laut will be sentenced March 2 in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald