TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — An audit of thousands of pieces of police evidence is underway and a cadet accused of stealing drugs and cash is now free after posting bail.
Mike Hellgren speaks one-on-one with the county’s top prosecutor about the affected cases.
We’re talking about at least 15 cases–maybe 19 or more. The state’s attorney says he does not see any of them being in jeopardy and he doesn’t have any plans to drop any cases.
According to published reports, surveillance video shows a Florida police commander stealing prescription drugs from an evidence room.
A closed circuit camera network like that is among the security devices that led Baltimore County Police to charge Cadet Nicholas Ishmael, 20, with stealing more than $130,000 in drugs and cash from their evidence room at headquarters.
State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger tells WJZ the thefts include evidence from possibly 19 cases.
“I started as a law clerk in 1984 and I have never had anything like this happen before,” he said. “We don’t believe that our cases are going to be affected, but we are going to be making full disclosure to defense counsel.”
Drugs are not often tested before going to the evidence room. Those results, along with pictures taken at crime scenes, help prosecutors get around tampering. So far, evidence from 8,000 Baltimore County cases has been audited. There are still 19,000 more to examine.
“We’ve made our way through the drugs cases, some gun cases and some money cases,” said Shellenberger.
Nationwide, there are dozens of police evidence theft cases every year. They include a former Tampa, Florida “Officer of the Year” cashing stolen money orders, a North Carolina officer stealing drugs and an officer in Pennsylvania doing the same to fuel an addiction.
Shellenberger says he has confidence in police securing evidence going forward and uncovering anything Cadet Ishmael may have taken.
“This is one of the number one priorities right now in the police department,” said Shellenberger
Only one murder case was impacted. Police say it involves a drug deal gone bad in Towson back in November 2012. Two men were charged. The state’s attorney says he does not see any problem with the case.
The cadet posted $650,000 bail. He’s now awaiting trial.
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