Mass Chief Charged With Drug Theft

A Massachusetts fire chief has been charged with stealing drugs from the town’s ambulance. Fire Chief David F. Cobb of the Princeton Fire Department has been placed on administrative leave and charged with one count of larceny of a drug, and one count of obtaining drugs by fraud.

Cobb, 45, was the town’s first full-time fire chief and was the department’s only full-time employee.  In June 2012, pharmacists at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester and Heywood Hospital in Gardner informed authorities that the Princeton Fire Department appeared to be using excessive amounts of narcotics.

Police conducted an audit of the drugs and discovered discrepancies in Princeton’s inventory of Fentanyl, morphine, valium and versed. The department’s stock of drugs did not match the drugs dispensed from the two hospitals.

Chief Cobb was the primary record keeper for the narcotics and personally signed for the drugs at the hospitals. Some of the missing drugs were reported as “wasted” but no explanation was provided as to how the drugs were wasted. Log entries for the narcotic drug count in the ambulance were changed without any specific reason.

The incident is not Chief Cobb’s first brush with the law. Back in 2010 he was indicted along with another firefighter for transporting wood cut from quarantine zone, to a site outside the quarantine zone in connection with his side business, Branch Manager Tree Service.

Chief Cobb was charged on Monday and released on personal recognizance. He is scheduled to appear back in court on December 3. 2012. More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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