Charges Dropped for Firefighter Caught With 20 Pounds of Pot

Criminal charges have been dropped against Cary Cole, the 10-year-veteran of the Phoenix Fire Department allegedly caught with 20 pounds of marijuana last year.

The motion to dismiss his case, filed by federal prosecutors last week and approved by a judge, means Cole currently faces no legal problems related the discovery of the pot in the bed of his pickup truck. No state charges were ever filed in his case.

Federal and state charges have also been dropped against Cole's brother, Mitchell Austin Cole and co-defendant Tatiana Hart. All three were accused of playing a role in a scheme apparently led by Valley physician Edward Sayegh, whose medical license was suspended last year for forging drug prescriptions after his own prescription-writing ability had been revoked. Sayegh and a slew of other co-defendants are still being prosecuted by the Arizona Attorney General's Office, which is handling the case.

Previous media reports indicate that Mitchell Austin Cole was accused of helping Sayegh with the bogus prescriptions. As part of the AG's investigation of Sayegh, which also involved the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, cops put the Cole brothers under surveillance.

Soon after Sayegh's arrest in June of 2014, Cole — formerly a roving paramedic with the fire department — was seen loading large, plastic garbage bags full of marijuana into his pickup's bed, according to a July 2014 Channel 3 News (KTVK-TV) report. MCSO deputies pulled the firefighter over and removed the estimated 20 pounds of pot.

The AG's office referred both brothers' case to the Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office, and Mitchell Cole was also hit with state charges that were just dropped, as mentioned. Lawyers for the brothers and Sayegh either didn't return messages or didn't comment. The U.S. Attorney's Office and state AG's office won't talk about the case.

Cary Cole's is still in the process of being fired from the Phoenix Fire Department, which also declined comment. An agenda from a May 14 meeting of the city of Phoenix Civil Services Board shows that a date for a hearing about Cole has not yet been set.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.