Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Public safety

Paramedic accused of stealing pain medicine from Bayfront Medical Center

ST. PETERSBURG — Police arrested a Bayfront Medical Center paramedic they said stole nearly 30 vials of pain medicine over the weekend.

Brian Whitney Cote, 32, of St. Petersburg took 19 vials of hydromorphone and nine vials of morphine during two trips to the hospital Saturday and Sunday, authorities said.

On one of those occasions, Cote swiped the drugs — worth $2,100 — while holding his infant daughter in his arms, police said.

Cote was arrested Monday on a charge of grand theft and released from jail Tuesday afternoon after he posted $2,000 bail.

Police spokesman Mike Puetz said Cote told investigators he has a drug habit and "needs help."

Cote wasn't supposed to be at the hospital — because officials there were conducting an internal investigation related to possible "improper procedures relating to medical narcotics and possible theft," a police report said.

The police report says Cote used his access badge to enter the hospital both days.

Once inside, he used his identification number to take the drugs, which was reflected in the hospital's record system.

Surveillance video showed him at the hospital at the time of the thefts, officials said.

Bayfront spokeswoman Emily Nipps said the hospital put Cote on administrative leave late last week. She said Cote kept his badge.

"We don't automatically take away their badge access. It's on a case-by-case basis," she said. "This all happened in a very short window."

Nipps said Cote got a job at Bayfront in August on an as-needed basis. He became a full-time paramedic Feb. 17.

"He will be terminated," Nipps said.

Cote could not be reached for comment.

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