Gwinnett Daily Post, gwinnettdailypost.com
BYLINE: Tyler Estep,
More than five months after an investigation was launched into her alleged theft of prescription drug evidence, former Lilburn police Officer Kim Banks has been arrested.
The probe, however, is not over.
Banks, a 15-year veteran of the Lilburn Police Department before resigning in February, turned herself in at the Gwinnett County jail at 1:35 a.m. Wednesday. Charged with violation of oath by a public officer and violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act, she was released about three hours later on $16,900 bond.
Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter confirmed that the charges were brought in connection with his office’s investigation, the initial part of which was completed at the end of February. According to documents previously obtained via open records requests, Banks is tied to at least four situations involving pills missing from the Lilburn Police Department evidence room.
Porter said Wednesday that his office is still reviewing the results of a Georgia Bureau of Investigation audit of that evidence room and that more charges are possible. He added that other allegations have emerged regarding “funds that were misappropriated” and “some additional controlled substances.”
“But those are in the investigative step at this point,” Porter said.
Messages left with Banks’ attorney, Jeff Sliz, were not immediately returned Wednesday. A Lilburn police spokesman directed inquiries to the district attorney’s office.
Banks resigned on Feb. 10, just a few days after a colleague at the Lilburn Police Department noticed a missing evidence bag supposed to contain 12 pills of carisoprodol, a highly addictive muscle relaxer commonly known as Soma. The missing evidence bottle was later found but contained only 5.5 pills.
In the subsequent internal investigation, authorities reportedly tied Banks to several other suspicious incidents. In her office, they allegedly found an empty evidence bag supposed to contain three pills of anxiety drug lorazepam, as well as a bag marked to contain five Xanax pills. Only 1.5 pills were inside, documents said.
The department’s evidence technician officer also noted several “random times” when the drug bin — which only he and Banks had access to — was not as he left it.
Banks, listed on jail records as a resident of Flowery Branch, has previously maintained her innocence, blaming any irregularities on “sloppy police work.”
Both charges filed against Banks are felonies and carry possible sentences of one to five years in prison.
Porter declined to offer specifics regarding the lengthy interval between the initial investigation and the charges. He said there had been “discussions” but “no resolution” reached between him and Sliz.
Lilburn police Chief Bruce Hedley issued a lengthy emailed statement late Wednesday afternoon, saying the agency was “deeply saddened by the actions of someone who was once regarded as a loyal and dedicated member of the Department.” Hedley also said that the aforementioned audit of the department’s evidence room found that “no other persons were responsible” for missing drugs.
“The City of Lilburn Police Department has a solid set of General Orders governing the receipt, storage, transfer and release of property and evidence,” Hedley’s statement said. “It was this practice that enabled the Police Department to discover the theft of property from the Evidence Room. After a thorough Internal Affairs investigation and an on-going criminal investigation by the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office, it has been determined that Kim Banks was the only person who was taking property.”
The department’s property and evidence policies were also evaluated by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police and found to be in compliance with state standards, Hedley said.
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