By Julie Montanaro
July 22, 2015
A former Leon County paramedic who overdosed on heroin while on the job opts for a plea deal.
Justin Becraft was in court this morning. We were the first to break the story of his arrest and firing last year.
Becraft was found unconscious in the bathroom of the TMH emergency room last summer with a needle, a tourniquet and other paraphernalia alongside him.
Arrest reports say he had just dropped off a pregnant patient.
Today Becraft entered a no contest plea to misdemeanor charges and the judge agreed to withhold adjudication in the case.
The prosecutor says Becraft must pay court costs and fees, but won't serve any time in jail or on probation. Prosecutor Jeremy Mutz says Becraft was treated the same as anyone else facing these misdemeanor drug paraphernalia charges.
We have reached out to Becraft's attorney for comment, but have not received a call back.
By Julie Montanaro
July 24, 2014
A Leon County paramedic is fired after supervisors say he overdosed on heroin while on the job.
The paramedic had just dropped off a pregnant patient at the hospital, arrest papers say, when he was found unconscious and "blue" on the bathroom floor.
It happened at Tallahassee Memorial July 13th.
A co-worker says Leon County paramedic Justin Becraft ducked into the bathroom and never came out. He and a security officer ultimately found Becraft "unconscious."
Inside the bathroom with him, arrest papers say, was a used needle, a metal spoon , a green tourniquet, a lighter and three small baggies."
Becraft later told police he bought two bags of heroin on the way to work that day, cooked it in the bathroom and injected it. Arrest papers say doctors also found a drug called Fentanyl in his system - that's a pain reliever more potent than morphine.
"Immediately after we knew, after we found out the results and we knew what happened we took immediate action the next day and terminated his employment with the county," Leon County EMS Chief Tom Quillin said.
Quillin declined to discuss the specifics of what happened that day, saying Becraft still has time to appeal his firing.
We tried to reach Becraft for a comment too, but no one answered our knock at the door of his home and there's no defense attorney listed in his court records.
Becraft has been employed with Leon County EMS since 2007. The chief contends Becraft - and other EMT's and paramedics - are randomly drug tested and an immediate inventory of the ambulances didn't show anything missing.
"Was this patient's safety jeopardized by either his care or driving?"
"Let me assure you that there was no compromise in terms of patient care or service to the community because of this incident," Quillin said.
Arrest papers say Becraft spoke freely with investigators after he recovered, telling them he was a recovering addict who's been clean for about a month. He told them the amount of heroin he used that day wasn't unusual and his "functionality was usually enough that he planned to return to work after injecting the drugs."
Becraft was charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia and issued a notice to appear in court.
We found out today that another paramedic's job is on the line too.
Chief Quillin tells us that paramedic was arrested on drug charges while off duty, but failed to notify the county, which is against its policy.
The chief says employees arrested "off duty" typically have a chance to enter counseling and drug treatment, but that does not apply to folks caught with drugs "on the job."