Former Clallam County District 3 firefighter/paramedic Paul Rynearson entered a not guilty plea in Clallam Superior Court on Friday, Dec. 6.
He was charged with burglary in the second degree, which is a Class B felony, and theft in the third degree, a gross misdemeanor.
Jesse Espinoza, a deputy prosecuting attorney in the Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, said the court had found probable cause for filing the charges, which relate to two thefts of narcotics from the Clallam County Fire District 3 headquarters in Sequim.
Espinoza said in September Rynearson had been relieved of duty and placed on administrative leave. He was given a warning letter prohibiting him from being on the district's property.
On Oct. 6, Rynearson was found at the station house. After being confronted by a firefighter he left.
Two hours later employees of the fire district reported a theft of narcotics.
Lt. Lawrence Bingham later received a text message from Rynearson, who admitted stealing morphine.
Espinoza said a not guilty plea "is typical in about 99 percent of criminal trials."
"They're not saying, 'I didn't do it.' They're saying, 'I have the right to a trial.'"
Trial is set for Feb. 18, with a status hearing scheduled for Jan. 16.
Espinoza said there is a possibility the case will be moved to drug court.
He said in drug court the defendant enters into a contract, which results in "minimally" a year and a half of patient treatment.
"It's not an easy way out, but if they're successful and they've paid any restitution, their case will be dismissed."
Reach Mark Couhig at email@example.com.
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