Kansas EMT stole morphine, replaced vials on ambulances with saline

A Kansas emergency medical technician has pleaded guilty to stealing vials of morphine from ambulances and replacing them with watered-down solutions.

Colby VanWagoner, 33, of Mayetta, Kan., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to obtaining a controlled substance by deception and lying to cover it up.

VanWagoner worked for the emergency medical service in Jackson County, Kan., which is just north of Topeka.

According to federal prosecutors, VanWagoner took vials of 100 percent liquid morphine and replaced them with vials of saline solution that contained only small percentages of morphine.

His sentencing is scheduled for March 12.

Federal prosecutors in the area have charged several similar cases in recent years, including one in Kansas City, and another in Bethany, Mo.

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Tony Rizzo covers federal and state courts for The Kansas City Star, where he has been a reporter for more than 30 years. He is a Kansas City native and veteran of the U.S. Army.