BYLINE: Romando Dixson
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District attorney to get report soon
ASHEVILLE — Blueline Systems & Services exhausted nearly all money budgeted for an audit of the Police Department evidence room and is in the final stages of preparing a report for Buncombe County District Attorney Ron Moore.
“We’re just double-checking figures and doing final editing on the report,” Blueline director Mike Wright said.
Blueline billed the city $174,722.50 during inventory data collection, and no more invoices will be filed.
City Council approved spending up to $175,000 in money from drug seizures after a partial audit earlier this year found police had lost track of at least 27 guns taken as evidence, along with drugs and cash.
Moore said he has a few inklings of what may be in the audit report based on talks with Wright but it isn’t anything he can discuss. He said he is anxious to see the complete findings of the audit.
“I know they have examined thousands of items,” Moore said. “As far as results, we’re going to have to wait.”
Moore told police it would be about a month before he is ready to discuss the report with APD staff, Capt. Tim Splain said.
The State Bureau of Investigation is continuing its criminal investigation, which Moore requested after an assistant district attorney and a defense lawyer went to the evidence room in preparation for a case against a drug suspect and discovered 397 pills of oxycodone were missing from an evidence envelope.
The discovery led Moore to drop drug trafficking charges against the suspect.
“We’ll still continue to be available to cooperate with the SBI investigation if they need to talk with us or we need to interact with them in any way,” Wright said.
Wright is limited on what he can say about the audit because of a confidentiality agreement in his contract.
The report will be about 20 pages in text and also include charts, attachments and different databases, he said.
It will include recommendations to make tracking items in the evidence room more accurate and efficient in the future, Wright said.
Blueline employees were paid an hourly rate for work that began in June, and some earned $85 an hour. Since April, the company also has billed the city for training, media interviews and meetings with attorneys and police, which cost $120 an hour, according to invoices obtained by the Citizen-Times.
Moore said Blueline had to establish and record the methods they used in case there are questions down the road.
“I think they were very, very meticulous about that, which is why it’s taken as long as it has,” Moore said.
Wright said the requirements of the existing contract will be fulfilled when the report is turned in.
He said the city and his company have not had a talk about whether more work will need to be done. That will not happen until Moore reviews the report.
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