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Ex-paramedic chief ordered to rehab

BIG BEAR CITY, California - A former paramedic chief for the Fire Department accepted undergoing drug treatment for violating his parole after a sheriff's deputy found methamphetamine in his vehicle during a traffic stop earlier this month.

Richard Rolston, 48, of Big Bear City made news last year when he was arrested on suspicion of stealing 358 vials of morphine from the Fire Department between November 2004 and November 2005.

He was sentenced in April 2006 to 16 months in prison.

On Aug. 15, a sheriff's deputy pulled Rolston over near Division Drive and Big Bear Boulevard on a vehicle code violation.

The deputy suspected Rolston, on parole for his prior offense, was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

During a search of Rolston's vehicle, methamphetamine was found, authorities said.

On Monday, Rolston, under a plea bargain with county prosecutors, appeared before Judge Robert Law in Big Bear Superior Court in Big Bear Lake and pleaded no contest to one felony count of transportation of a controlled substance.

Under California's Proposition 36 law, he is eligible for drug treatment, prosecutor Kris Parde said.

Rolston was released from custody and ordered to immediately start his drug treatment as a condition of his release, Parde said.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Rolston will undergo 18 months of drug treatment.

If he tests positive for drugs three times or is found unamenable to treatment, he could be remanded to county jail for a year or state prison for a term of two, three or four years, Parde said.

Neither Rolston nor his attorney, Phil Zywiciel, could be reached Wednesday for comment.

Rolston is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 12.

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