December 22, 2014

Elyria
Intermittent clouds
24°F
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Former firefighter pleads guilty to drug charges

ELYRIA — A former North Ridgeville firefighter pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges that accused him of “doctor shopping” to feed his addiction to prescription painkillers.

Robert Becker, 41, could get prison time when sentenced later this year on the six counts of deception to obtain dangerous drugs, but his attorney, Mike Camera, said he hopes his client will instead receive intervention in lieu of conviction.

Under the intervention program, Becker would be on probation for a year during which he would receive treatment. If he successfully completes the program, the charges would be dropped, but if he fails Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge could impose prison time or place him on probation.

Camera said Becker is already seeking help on his own to combat his addiction.

“He’s doing much better now,” he said.

Becker was arrested following an investigation by the Lorain County Drug Task Force that found he had gone to two doctors to get pain medication, including OxyContin, last summer.

Patients are supposed to disclose to their doctors if another physician has given them a prescription for narcotic painkillers.

Becker was fired last August by North Ridgeville following a series of incidents in which he was accused of being verbally abusive to those he encountered on duty, including the nursing staff at a local nursing home and a fellow firefighter during an ambulance run.

He was terminated following a July 2010 incident in which he began swearing at a Red Cross worker when he was told he could not donate blood due to high blood pressure.

Becker, who at one point apologized for his behavior in a letter to city officials, had fought to be reinstated with the Fire Department.

North Ridgeville Mayor Dave Gillock said Wednesday that Becker’s efforts to get his job back were unsuccessful.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.