Two years after he was named Westmont's firefighter of the year, Adam Giermann was accused of stealing morphine out of an ambulance, then replacing the powerful pain killer with saline solution.
But after a remorseful Giermann showed evidence that he was self-medicating an on-the-job injury and never put patients at risk, prosecutors agreed Monday to drop the original felony allegations.
In a plea deal, Giermann was sentenced Monday to two years' probation and ordered to serve 10 days of light duty in the sheriff's work alternative camp after he admitted committing misdemeanor criminal trespass to a motor vehicle.
The 29-year-old Bolingbrook man also must continue receiving counseling.
Giermann was charged last summer with three felonies, including official misconduct and burglary charges. He faced up to seven years in prison if convicted.
Giermann swiped the morphine to treat a back injury he received while transporting a patient on the job, defense attorney Brian Telander said. He said Giermann had seen a doctor but, despite taking the prescribed medication, the pain still was interfering with his ability to do his job.
"He wasn't taking the morphine to sell it or get high," Telander said. "He had a very serious back injury that he got on the job. He was trying to fight through the pain so that he could continue working."
The investigation began in April 2009 after a co-worker reported seeing Giermann use a syringe to inject the morphine into himself at a fire station at 500 N. Cass Ave.
The allegation was reported to Fire Chief Frank Trout, who launched an internal investigation. Giermann, a firefighter/paramedic hired in 2001, admitted stealing the morphine in March and April 2009. He promptly resigned and began weekly counseling sessions.
Prosecutors said he replaced the morphine with saline solution to avoid detection. No patients were injected with the salt water while being treated, Telander said.
"The evidence showed that never happened," Telander said. "He was very careful to ensure no one else was ever put in danger."
Giermann was named the 2007 firefighter of the year after being nominated by his peers. He did not have a prior criminal record. Before agreeing to the plea deal, DuPage Circuit Judge George Bakalis read 25 letters of support, including one from Chief Trout, as well as other firefighters.
Giermann no longer works in the fire profession.