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Ex-paramedic sentenced for theft of drugs

A weekly look at Citrus County court.

Former paramedic supervisor Kenneth Terry Wilson was sentenced Tuesday to three years' probation and two years of community control for stealing drugs from his ambulance and from the patients he treated.

Wilson, 38, told the court that at the time he was committing the crimes he was so strung-out on drugs that he had no idea what he was doing, but that he now has conquered his addiction and wants to be a paramedic again.

Citrus County EMS director Steven Lovenguth testified as a character witness for Wilson. Lovenguth told the court that he would be willing to rehire Wilson.

"Terry Wilson was one of our best," Lovenguth said. "He was honest, punctual and he took his job very seriously. I would have no reservations about rehiring him if he is rehabilitated."

State Prosecutor Bob Hodges, however, urged Judge John Thurman to prohibit Wilson from working as a paramedic until he completes his probation.

"There is always a possibility that a drug addict might have a relapse and endanger people in the community," Hodges said. "He would have drugs he is addicted to in the palms of his hands."

Hodges said several paramedics last year noticed a shortage of drugs and suspectedthat Wilson was responsible. The Sheriff's Office began an investigation and on Oct. 29, a "sting" operation was arranged.

A Marion County sheriff's deputy was used to fake a medical emergency. Wilson respondedand was videotaped stealing drugs from the undercover deputy.

"Wilson would take the morphine out of the morphine bottles and replace the morphine with water, then put it back in the ambulance," Hodges said. "When we checked the morphine bottles we found that 18 of the 22 morphine bottles were filled with water."

Wilson's attorney, Fred Ohlinger, told the court that Wilson first became an alcoholic, then became addicted to other drugs in his effort to escape reality.

"The drugs he was addicted to took him to a level that he could never foresee," Ohlinger said. "Knowing he has a wife and a child and another one on the way has jarred him back to a reality that he doesn't want to escape."

Wilson has not worked since October. He told the court that he and his wife have been forced to accept food stamps and he wants a chance to be a paramedic again because that has been his only occupation.

Wilson said all he wanted was to keep his paramedic certification and he would not reapply for a job in Citrus. Thurman said it would be up to the Department of Professional Regulations to rule on whether he should keep his certification.

In other court news:

Thurman sentenced Donna Lou Backen to six months in the county jail and 18 months of community control for attacking her former tenant, Wendy Love, and pointing a pistol at Love's year-old child.

Backen had asked the court to sentence her to house arrest so that she could continue to care for her husband, who is severely ill. Backen argued that her husband would die in 30 days if she was not there for him.

Backen used a gun to beat Love over the head when the two got into a dispute Aug. 16 about unpaid rent and deposits. Love was unconscious when EMS workers arrived.

"A gun was used in the commission of a felony and that must be answered to," Thurman said before issuing the sentence. Thurman did, however withhold a guilty verdict in the case.

"Beating me is one thing, but to put a gun to my baby's head, I will never forget that," said Wendy Love.

Backen's only comment after sentencing was, "This will kill my husband."

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