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Audit finds detachments mishandled evidence:

Charleston Daily Mail
BYLINE: Ry Rivard

Charleston, WV

Troopers at four W.Va. locations unable to prove they destroyed drugs

Apr. 13 -- CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Some State Police detachments in southern West Virginia have failed to maintain small quantities of confiscated drugs and are at times unable to document the proper disposal of the drugs, according to an audit released Monday by the Legislative Auditor's Office.

Auditors visited the evidence rooms of five randomly selected police detachments between the summers of 2008 and 2009.

At four of them, troopers had failed to maintain small quantities of drugs or paraphernalia. Troopers initially took the drugs in relation to misdemeanor possession charges. The quantities involved are less than 15 grams.

All of the detachments where problems were found were in the southwestern part of the state and were overseen by the same regional group, Troop 6.

State law requires investigators to contact prosecutors to determine whether evidence must be retained, released to the owner or destroyed.

Troopers also were unable to provide auditors with documentation to support the disposal of drugs from the evidence rooms of the Richwood and Princeton detachments.

At Richwood, auditors found seven items listed on criminal investigation reports that were not located in the evidence room and that troopers could not provide documentation for the destruction of. The items included four glass bowls with residue; one snort tube with residue; .12 grams of marijuana; and marijuana seeds and .5 grams of marijuana.

Similarly, in Princeton, auditors listed three items -- two hydrocodone pills; 10 other muscle-relaxing pills; and pea-size rock of crack- that were missing and lacked disposal records.

State law requires appropriate destruction documentation from the court and a record of the time, date and manner of the destruction of drugs.

State Police Superintendent Timothy Pack told auditors the procedure for destruction of misdemeanor evidence varies from county to county and is determined by the prosecutor's office in each county, according to the report.

He also told auditors that he believes no troopers to be using the misdemeanor quantities of drugs because the department performs periodic drug testing.

He also told auditors that drug residue has no value or use.

Auditors also found indications that $270,000 worth of live marijuana plants at the Jesse detachment in Wyoming County had been seized and were said to have been destroyed. But auditors found troopers did not provide evidence that the plants had been destroyed.

"While the eradication practices may not require documentation of eradication, without proper documentation we were unable to determine if the plants were properly destroyed and not used for other purposes," the auditors found.

Besides the Jesse detachment, auditors visited the Hinton detachment, which is in Troop 6.

Auditors did not find similar drug evidence-handling problems at the Bureau of Criminal Investigations Headquarters in Kanawha County, which is covered by Troop 4.

A spokesman for the State Police did not immediately return a message seeking comment Monday evening.

Contact writer Ry Rivard at or 304-348-1796.

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