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Antrim/Peterborough

Medic resigns; scope widens

March suspension linked to drug thefts in Antrim

PETERBOROUGH — Jeremy Bouchard — the clinical director for the Peterborough Fire and Rescue Department’s ambulance service who has been charged with theft and possession of narcotic drugs taken from Peterborough ambulances — admitted to stealing narcotics from both Peterborough and Antrim when he was questioned by state officials in March, according to the N.H. Department of Safety . Bouchard resigned his post on Wednesday.

However, Bouchard is pleading not guilty to the felony charges filed against him by Peterborough police on Aug. 3. The charges came after an investigation that started following an inventory of drugs belonging to Monadnock Community Hospital that were stored in a Peterborough ambulance, according to Peterborough Police Chief Scott Guinard.

On Wednesday, Bouchard, who had been placed on paid administrative leave from his clinical director position after the Aug. 3 arrest, stepped down from the job. In a one-sentence letter to Peterborough Fire Chief Joseph Lenox, he wrote, “Due to recent events, I would like to resign immediately from my position with the Peterborough Fire Department.”

Bouchard had been earning an annual salary of $54,080.

Bouchard’s paramedic license was suspended on March 5 by the State’s Division of Fire Standards and Training and Emergency Medical Services. He was found to have violated RSA 153-A:13 (d), which states that a license may be suspended for “knowingly making misleading, deceptive, untrue, or fraudulent representations in the practice of his or her profession, or engaging in unethical conduct or practice harmful or detrimental to the public.”

In a letter sent to Bouchard on April 26 following a hearing on the suspension, John Barthelmes, commissioner of the N.H. Department of Safety, wrote that the suspension would stand.

“You admitted to members of the Bureau of EMS and to multiple different parties, either on the phone or in person, that you, Jeremy Bouchard, stole narcotics from Peterborough Fire and Antrim Fire,” Barthelmes wrote in the letter, which was obtained by the Ledger-Transcript on Tuesday. “You denied using the stolen medication and you currently have no enforcement agency pressing charges against you for the theft.”

The letter also states that there was insufficient evidence to support allegations that Bouchard had violated state law by illegally using drugs or that he had violated any state or federal statute related to the practice of an emergency medical care provider.

The letter had no specifics about what narcotics Bouchard has admitted to stealing in Peterborough or Antrim. Bouchard, who lives in Antrim, had resigned his part-time paramedic post there on April 4, according to Antrim Town Administrator Galen Stearns. The Ledger-Transcript was unable to contact Antrim Fire Chief Mike Beauchamp for comment on Bouchard’s admission.

While Bouchard had not been charged with any crime at the time of Barthelmes’ letter , that changed on Aug. 3 when the Peterborough police filed the theft and possession charges.

In documents filed in 8th Circuit Court, Jaffrey, last week, Bouchard’s attorney, Paul Schweizer of Keene, wrote that Bouchard “wishes to plead not guilty by way of this letter, thereby waiving a formal arraignment in this matter.” Schweizer asked that a date for a probable cause hearing be set.

Bouchard declined to comment on his case when contacted by phone on Tuesday. A call to Schweizer was not returned.

The theft and possession charges against Bouchard will be investigated and prosecuted by the N.H. Attorney General’s Office.

James Vara, the assistant attorney general assigned to the case, said Tuesday that his office was in the early stage of its investigation.

“It’s active and ongoing,” Vara said. “It’s new for us. We’ll do a thorough investigation. We’ll be working in conjunction with Peterborough police.”

The 90-day suspension of Bouchard’s paramedic license ended on June 3, but the license was suspended again by the state following his arrest. Bouchard, who had continued to work as clinical director for the ambulance service while his paramedic’s license was under suspension, was also placed on paid administrative leave by the town of Peterborough after the arrest.

Bouchard was hired by the town of Peterborough as a per-diem paramedic in July 2009. He became the clinical director of the town’s ambulance program in November 2011. As clinical director, he was responsible for hiring and supervising emergency medical technicians and paramedics, according to Peterborough Town Administrator Pam Brenner. He also worked as a paramedic for the town while serving as clinical director. Brenner has said Bouchard did not work as a paramedic during the time his license was under suspension, but he continued in his role as clinical director. After the suspension ended on June 3, Bouchard resumed working at times as a paramedic.

John Chisholm was named clinical director last week. Peterborough Fire Chief Joseph Lenox said Chisholm, who has been a part-time paramedic in Peterborough for about a year and a half, is a full-time firefighter elsewhere in New Hampshire. He will work about 34 hours a week for Peterborough, Lenox said.

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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