By Mike Hellgren

TOWSON, Md. (WJZ)— Baltimore County Police have charged a cadet with stealing tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of drugs and money from the department’s evidence room.

Investigative reporter Mike Hellgren takes a closer look at the case against 20-year-old Nicholas Ishmael.

Police first noticed something was wrong back in April when some evidence went missing in a murder case. They did a full audit and found a lot of other missing items. They were able to connect it all to a cadet, who they confronted in a parking lot a few days ago.

Ishmael was a young Baltimore County Police cadet, and authorities say he used his position in the evidence room in headquarters to steal drugs with a street value of more than $130,000, including cocaine and more than 3,000 Oxycodone tablets.

“Make no mistake about it. I’m deeply troubled by the circumstances. The same background that goes into hiring a civilian cadet goes into that of being a police officer,” said Chief James Johnson, Baltimore County Police.

Authorities say Ishmael became so bold that when they arrested him in the police parking lot, he was carrying $40,000 in cash in a backpack. Detectives also recovered evidence from his home in Parkville.

Neighbor and family friend Angela Jerome has known the cadet and his family since he was a little boy and recommended him to the cadet program.

“They’ve been great neighbors,” she said. “It’s really hard to believe that he would be guilty of that.”

The evidence room has more than 200,000 items. The chief says it’s protected by closed circuit cameras and a barcode scanner system. It’s staffed by nine people.

“It’s a very strict accounting process when that item is checked out and then rechecked back in again,” Johnson said. “However, there are times when an individual must be on their own to go back into the recesses of the warehouse to recover a piece of property. Again, much of which is no bigger than the pad you hold in your hand.”

Police believe Ishmael worked alone to steal the evidence.

“I feel so sorry for them.” Jerome said. “They’re wonderful people, OK? I would recommend them for anything.”

Some 15 cases may have been comprised by this. Johnson said he did meet with the State’s Attorney’s Office.

Ishmael is charged with 10 offenses, including theft and possession with intent to distribute narcotics. He is being held at the county detention center on $650,000 bail.

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