MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A former Washington County Sheriff’s deputy has been charged with stealing drugs.

Investigators say he was taking them from a bin set up for the public to drop off for unused prescription medications.

Ricky Gruber resigned as a deputy before felony charges were filed on Wednesday.

The Washington County Sheriff William Hutton said Gruber was caught on tape getting into the bin after stealing the key to open it.

The deputy was a 15-year veteran of the department with no record of any disciplinary actions against him.

The sheriff said it’s an example of just how serious and widespread the abuse of prescription drugs has become.

“We have collected 57 50-gallon drums of unused medications and prescription medicines,” Hutton said.

But in January, a deputy noticed something wrong on the other side of the collection box.

“One of our deputies noticed that our secured box was not secured,” Hutton said.

When confronted, Gruber said he took the drugs to help a medical issue involving sexual intimacy. The drugs are not the most commonly abused medications, and include the antibiotic amoxicillin and the antidepressant trazodone. The sheriff does not believe Gruber was selling the medicines.

“He continually states that they were for personal use,” Hutton said.

No one answered the door at Gruber’s Oakdale home.

The deputy was not immediately booked into the jail, and no mug shot was taken. Felony charges were filed because one of the medications is a controlled substance, and Hutton said it’s tough confronting the theft by one of his own.

“I am extremely embarrassed and extremely concerned,” Hutton said.

Hutton said the program will continue because it’s been so successful.

If convicted, Gruber faces up to 16 years in prison and $34,000 in fines. His first court appearance is May 15.

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