UPDATE: ConFire EMS Chief Charged With Embezzlement And Possession Of Controlled Substances

January 10, 2019 19:56 pm · 29 comments

The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office charged 50-year-old Martinez resident Richard Stephenson with two felonies for embezzlement and two misdemeanor charges of possessing a controlled substance.

Stephenson is the chief of Emergency Medical Services with the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. He was arrested over the weekend by Martinez police.

The embezzlement charges relate to Stephenson stealing controlled substances belonging to the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District in order to support his personal drug addiction, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.

Stephenson was arrested and arraigned at the Contra Costa County Superior Courthouse this afternoon.

The charges filed against Richard Stephenson include:

  • Count 1, Embezzlement by Public or Private Officer – Felony
  • Count 2, Embezzlement by Clerk, Agent or Servant – Felony
  • Count 3, Possession of Fentanyl – Misdemeanor
  • Count 4, Possession of Midazolam – Misdemeanor

Stephenson’s next court date is Feb.26.

TraumaRx January 10, 2019 at 8:32 PM

Being charged with a crime doesn’t make you guilty. Lets wait till the trial for all the facts to come out. Rich has served this county with honor and respect for many years so lets hope his peers take notice.

Anon January 10, 2019 at 9:41 PM


Carnac the Magnificent January 10, 2019 at 10:32 PM

Hard to beat a paper crime. Just too much paper trail evidence not to mention, he either possessed the controlled substances or he did not. I suspect the evidence will be overwhelming.

If convicted he should receive a sentence similar to disgraced former officer Matthew Switzer, who was also well respected at one point. 2 1/2 years prison, suspended after 6 months MDF if he successfully completes a licensed secure treatment center. Barred from holding a position of public trust, restitution and a possible prorated loss of his CalPERS pension from the point of embezzlement to his termination/retirement.

Jenn January 10, 2019 at 8:45 PM

I said it on Facebook and I’ll say it here- I really wish the focus of these reports was on mental health for the men and women that keep us safe. The public will never know what you can’t unsee in the line of duty and the accumulative effect of 20 years of that. Dragging this man through the mud won’t do anyone any good.


frenchdawg January 11, 2019 at 7:21 AM


Sign from Above January 11, 2019 at 8:03 AM

Not to condone his activity at all. Iit was wrong, period,

That being said, I agree Jenn. Fire fighting and EMS work are very physical jobs and prone to many injuries. While I admit I don’t know if this is even the case, he may have been injured during his career. Many times back injuries and such require surgery followed by pain killing medications, such as Fentanyl or other opiods. These drugs are highly addictive and he many have become addicted through no intent on his part. Anyone that knows about this issue is very aware that this type of addiction can happen to anyone. Believe it or not, it could happen to any one of us under certain circumstance. The medical field needs to be VERY careful in the use of these medications.

Again, if he is guilty, what he did was wrong. But to unknowingly drag him through the mud without knowing what brought this addiction on is wrong too. If the above scenario is true of this case, he ruined his career and possibly his life, as a direct result of doing his job. And, that was to help others. Let’s wait and see what comes out of this before we judge him too harshly. JMHO.

eastbaybella January 10, 2019 at 9:16 PM

I’m surprised possession of Fentany & Midazolam is only a Misdemeanor !!

Carnac the Magnificent January 10, 2019 at 10:36 PM

Well, you can thank the voter-approved 2014 Proposition 47 “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act” for decriminalizing possession of dangerous drugs.

That’s what she said January 11, 2019 at 6:03 AM

That’s what happens when people don’t read the props they vote for.

Miss Information January 11, 2019 at 2:11 PM

I was thinking the same thing, sad for our future with no mental health crisis management. Drug addiction is a sickness and the world is saturated with addicts. Your mom, daughter, uncle who knows could be suffering and you may not know until it’s too late

mg January 10, 2019 at 11:29 PM

I just read that those drugs are used to calm anxiety, sometimes used as palliative of ptsd and such. if that is true. you bet he has seen so much suffering in his long career. this posts should not appear here until he is proven guilty. JUST MY OPINION…

sillyfilly454 January 10, 2019 at 11:46 PM

@ Jenn – are u friggin kidding me? You obviously are a relative or married to a fireman, policeman or someone connected. Stephenson may have indeed served our community and been a stellar example for all those years, that is UNTIL he broke the law. Sure it’s a stressful job, but that by no means gives him a free pass to commit multiple felonies & not suffer the consequences just like anybody else. Reminds me of Norman Wielsch CNET commander who was found guilty on a cluster of felonies and tried to blame it on the fact his daughter had bone cancer. He went as far as to ask the Judge to bypass an Act of Congress and be sentenced to house arrest. The judge gave him 14 years. I don’t give a rats ass what good Stephenson did throughout his career. The day he crossed that line he became a criminal- subject to the same penalties & punishments as the rest of us.

Sign from Above January 11, 2019 at 8:19 AM

@ Silly

No one is asking that he get a free ride if found guilty. If he did what he’s accused of (and he probably did) he should suffer the same consequences as anyone else. Jenn is just saying that there is another side that we should look at and address as a result of this case. You don’t need to be married to a cop or firefighter to suggest that we learn from the mistakes of others.

From what has been released so far, this case has no comparison to the Wielsh case. Wielsh was a dirty cop in too many ways to mention here. Wielsh was a criminal of his own making. Wielsh fully intended to break the law for his own personal gain.

This case involves an addict who’s life just went out of control for whatever reason. I think Jenn is simply saying we should find out why it went out of control and take steps to prevent this from happening to other people who, absent their addictions, are good upstanding people.

Cowellian January 11, 2019 at 10:34 AM

His drug use just makes him another junkie, and I really don’t care how he got there. However, IF he was stealing medicine needed by Emergency Medical Service, that was an intentional act putting other people at risk. That puts him in the same class as Wielsh.

Mel January 11, 2019 at 1:19 PM

I TOTALLY agree!

Anonymous January 11, 2019 at 5:52 AM

The notion that first responders are subject to stress is without doubt true. However, the response , stealing drugs meant for people that are ill ,is just evil.

I’m really weary of hearing excuses for criminals.

Sign from Above January 14, 2019 at 7:45 AM

@ Carmac –

If you read what I wrote, I am not condoning illegal activity of any kind. The public officials mentioned, to include Officer Switzer, broke the law and should be penalized like anyone else. All I’m saying is that there are things we should be learning from these incidents, primarily the use of opiod medications in the hospital setting. More care needs to be exercised to prevent these addictions. Good (otherwise upstanding) people should not get injured on the job (whatever job that might be) and have their life ruined by a subsequent addiction to pain meds. Unfortunately, this happens more than people realize. We have enough junkies out there that are there by their own free will.. We don’t need to build our own.

That’s what she said January 11, 2019 at 6:00 AM

Did Norm Wielsch get all this support prior to his conviction?

Sign from Above January 11, 2019 at 10:09 AM

See my post above. Wielsch was a slug. No comparison to this case.

Carnac the Magnificent January 11, 2019 at 11:33 AM

@ Sign from Above

What about former CPD officer Matthew Switzer? Did you show him the same compassion?

Puffandstuff January 11, 2019 at 6:50 AM

This is all over the news. Why isn’t the tragedy of a man being killed in the crosswalk on our city street (Martinez ) by a speeding driver blasted all over the news?
People please slow down….

Concord Mom January 11, 2019 at 7:26 AM

I would like to point out that there are thousands of other people “serving their communities” in jobs as stressful, if not more stressful than his that are NOT stealing or doing benzos or opiods. An addict is an addict no matter where you work. He just had easier access.

Kentucky Derby January 11, 2019 at 10:08 AM

Making excuses for this guy is pathetic. An addict is an addict whether he’s a CEO, construction worker or fast food cashier. Anyone who goes into this type of profession knows the stress, PTSD, etc.

This doesn’t have anything to do with “mental health.” and everything to do with an addict who committed a crime. Period.

Princes January 11, 2019 at 11:28 AM

So sad, I wish he could of reach out for help if he had an addiction. At times they just don’t want to loose their jobs or help hel because of embarrassment 😔 I don’t know him but he will be in my thoughts and prayers and thank you for all you did during your career .

Mel January 11, 2019 at 1:21 PM

I AM married to a firefighter, and I am in TOTAL AGREEMENT with you!

cindy January 11, 2019 at 3:08 PM
Silva January 11, 2019 at 4:28 PM

What a cheapskate lowlife. He could’ve bought all he needed for personal use with that income. He didn’t need to put sick and injured people at risk. I have no sympathy.

John doe January 11, 2019 at 7:48 PM

Good guy, I know him.

Just struggled with addiction.

Nobody is immune. Now he must face the music.

Michael Hunt January 15, 2019 at 10:22 PM

As it turns out the county fire department still does not have it’s narcotics in the engines for its citizens. What a threat to public safety. It’s been over a week.

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