Paramedic sentenced to probation, workhouse for drug thefts


A Plymouth man, who worked as a paramedic, was sentenced for stealing drugs, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Friday.

Robert Ryan Lien, 37, pleaded guilty to eight counts of theft of controlled substances on three occasions while working as a paramedic. He was sentenced Thursday to 180 days in the county workhouse, and on one of the counts, he received 15-months in prison, but will not have to serve it if he successfully completes the terms of his five-year probation. On the remaining counts, he received a stay of imposition, which means if he successfully completes probations, he will have the charge reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor on his record.

He also must pay a fine of $6,000, although only $1,000 must be paid and the rest could be forgiven if he is successful on probation. Lien has also had his paramedics license suspended and will be unlikely to work in this field ever again.

According to the criminal complaint, on Jan. 6, 2016, Brooklyn Center Police officers were called to North Memorial Ambulance Service to investigate a reported theft of narcotics by an employee. Lien was suspected of stealing several vials of prescription drugs over the previous two weeks.

Investigators learned that on the overnight shift of Dec. 24-25, 2015, Lien worked the first half of a shift before being relieved by another paramedic. Lien provided the co-worker with a pouch containing narcotics for their ambulance. That paramedic inspected the pouch and it appeared to be in order. However, at the end of the shift, he noticed that the cap of a vial of Dilaudid had fallen off. He notified a supervisor and provided him with the entire pouch. Lien later admitted that he used some of the Dilaudid and replaced it with liquid saline before turning the pouch over.

In court, Lien said he was 100 percent guilty and had abused his position of power. During the sentencing, Hennepin County District Court Judge Jeannice Reding mentioned the seriousness of Lien’s crime and said she was disturbed by his use of saline. She said Lien was fortunate it did not result in injury to a suffering patient.

The criminal complaint also states that a supervisor, who was restocking drug pouches on Dec. 30, 2015, noticed that two vials from the pouch used by Lien that day had loose caps but that both vials appeared to be full. The following night, Lien entered the North Memorial Ambulance Service building, opened the narcotics locker and took a pouch containing vials of several prescription drugs, including Dilaudid and Fentanyl. The report says that Lien admitted to several co-workers that he took the pouch home and used the drugs himself.