Jury convicts former Washington County deputy sheriff

County Attorney Pete Orput announced that a Washington County jury Nov. 5 convicted Ricky Harry Gruber, 43, of Oakdale, of misconduct of a public employee and illegal possession of prescription drugs.

Gruber, a former Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy, was observed by hidden surveillance on Feb. 6, 2013, removing the secure drug drum from the pharmaceutical drop-off box at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. The drug take-back bin is a public service that allows citizens to drop off used or unwanted medications and drugs to the sheriff’s office for proper environmental disposal.

After being observed taking the drug bin, Gruber was seen bringing it back 13 minutes later. He was arrested at that time. Gruber then admitted to having stolen the key to the secure area, having made a copy for his own use. Gruber admitted that he took various prescription drugs from the drum and placed them in a red bag in his office in the sheriff’s department.

Sentencing is set for 10 a.m. Jan. 10. The maximum sentence for the gross misdemeanor misconduct charge is listed at one year and $3,000. While the illegal possession of prescription drugs has a maximum sentence of fiver years and $10,000 for a first offense.

“The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is to be congratulated for its swift and sure response in investigating the crimes committed by one of their own deputies,” Orput said. “Their professional response was responsible for our ability to bring him to justice. While it is disheartening when a law enforcement officer commits a crime, we can be reassured by the fact that they, too, will be brought to answer for their crime.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant County Attorney Tom Wedes.