Whitemarsh Twp. patrolman charged in drug thefts

A Whitemarsh Township patrolman was ordered held for trial Friday on charges from the theft of narcotics from a locked medicine cabinet while he was a volunteer with the Plymouth Community Ambulance squad.

Dominic Venezia, 37, of Hemlock Drive, was bound over on charges of theft, possession of a controlled substance, and receiving stolen property. Venezia waived his preliminary hearing before District Judge Francis J. Bernhardt in Conshohocken.

He was arrested June 1 after the ambulance squad's chief of operations noticed that morphine meant to treat trauma patients was missing from a cabinet in the squad's base station.

Police set up a surveillance camera in late May and captured videotape of Venezia stealing the drugs, according to law enforcement officials. At that time, he was the squad's assistant chief.

By comparing that evidence with the times his key card was used to open the office, police were able to identify Venezia as the one stealing the drugs, said Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.

Venezia was arrested while on duty as a Whitemarsh Township patrolman. When confronted with the thefts, he told investigators that he had a drug problem, and was immediately removed from duty and placed on leave, Ferman said.

The drugs were for personal use, not sale or distribution, said Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Rebecca W. Strubel, the prosecutor on the case.

Venezia is free on $5,000 bond.

A trial date in Montgomery County Court has not yet been set.


Contact staff writer Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or bcook@phillynews.com. Read her blog, "MontCo Memo," at www.philly.com/montcomemo.