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Former DeSoto TX Evidence Clerk Arrested!

Stolen guns and missing drugs: investigation finds thousands of potential thefts inside a North Texas police department

June 26th, 2024

DESOTO, Texas — Police are supposed to solve crimes, but the CBS News Texas I-Team found thefts may have been happening inside one department for years, without anyone noticing.

It began in January 2022, when a man was shot to death inside a DeSoto home, located just south of Dallas. Police collected several bags of marijuana that became evidence in a capital murder case. But four months later, the drugs could not be found.

According to internal records, DeSoto police discovered the disappearance during an audit of the evidence room that began in April 2022.

A property room consultant leading the project said it was just one of many problems she found. In a letter to Chief Joe Costa, Gayle Robison called the evidence room a "mess" that had not been run correctly for many years.

Among her findings:

  • Homicide evidence from cold cases that were not logged into the system
  • Items from old cases that were supposed to have been destroyed but were still in the room
  • No integrity seals on any of the evidence items

Robison noted, "without a signed seal by the officer there is no integrity of that item, which means no chain of custody."

Kolene Dean, a now-retired evidence room technician, agrees. She was not involved in the DeSoto audit but has conducted similar ones for dozens of departments over the years.

"All you have to do is have one incident where something is missing," she said. "And it affects every case because your chain of custody is critical. And if you cannot prove that that has been in a secure area, then the attorneys can attack all areas of the evidence."

Dean said that what happens in the evidence room can have ripple effects down the line. "Lots of cases have been dismissed simply because maybe a department wasn't following through with audits and inventories like they should," Dean explained.

That's why she believes there needs to be regular internal and external audits.

 "It's a shame that you can't trust people, but you can't," said Dean. "It's a hard lesson to learn in this field."

In DeSoto, that trust was placed in Carl Edmison. He ran the evidence room there for six years, until the audit in April 2022. That same month, Edmison applied to work at Midlothian Police Department's property room. Records show DeSoto's chain of command recommended him, saying he needed "minimal supervision" and they "fully trusted him." Edmison got the job and was in his last few days at DeSoto when the audit began.

In her letter to the chief, Robison, the auditor, claimed Edmison repeatedly argued with her and refused to follow directions. At one point she noted that she suspected he was changing records during the audit, to cover up the fact that items were missing.

DeSoto began investigating the missing drugs on Edmison's last day with the department, but it took five months for the police chief to contact Midlothian PD with his suspicions. Edmison was immediately put on leave.

In December 2022, DeSoto PD filed charges against Edmison, and the chief testified in front of a grand jury. However, the jury chose not to indict Edmison, so the case did not go to trial.

The criminal matter was over, but the DeSoto audit was too much for Midlothian to ignore.

The findings included:

  • Over 3,000 items destroyed without proper documentation
  • 1,200 items not accounted for
  • Criminal cases dismissed based on lack of evidence

In her letter, Robison urged the chief to implement training for officers on how to package evidence and what not to bring into a property room. She also mentioned how much evidence was being stored from old, outdated cases. According to Robison, there were more than 23,000 items at the start of the audit; by the end, approximately 10,000 had been marked for destruction.

In a memo, the Midlothian city manager wrote, "the evidence of improper management is overwhelming," and "had this information been available Mr. Edmison would not have been offered a position with the Midlothian Police Department."

By the time the Midlothian fired him, it was September 2023. Edmison had been on paid leave for eleven months, collecting $51,776.92 in pay.

Neither Midlothian nor DeSoto went public about their problems with Edmison. Then, this spring, DeSoto opened another investigation into their former evidence clerk.

According to an affidavit, a confidential informant told police Edmison had stolen from the property room for years, giving guns, tools, cameras, jewelry and other items as gifts. In April, police searched his home and said they found 18 guns in his master bedroom. DeSoto PD said 13 of them were from the property room. According to the affidavit, Edmison told investigators he knew it was wrong, "but once he took one it was difficult not to do it again."

Edmison is now charged with 13 counts of theft. He has declined to comment to the I-Team and has not yet entered a plea in the case. DeSoto PD Chief Joe Costa has refused to answer any of our questions, saying it could jeopardize the current case against Edmison. He would only say that the department implemented all of the key recommendations in the consultant's audit.

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