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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

Fayette County, OH

Cash gone from evidence room

Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth said he is adding a surveillance camera to his property room and enlisting a special prosecutor to investigate after learning that money seized in a criminal case is missing.

Stanforth and county Prosecutor David Bender would not say how much money is missing.

Bender has sought a special prosecutor from the state attorney general's office to conduct internal and criminal investigations into the missing money. Detectives have been provided from the sheriff's offices in Franklin and Ross counties to help in the investigations, Stanforth said in a news release yesterday.

The investigations will be conducted separately, and the special prosecutor might, after reviewing their results, present evidence to a grand jury, the sheriff said.

The disappearance was discovered when a deputy retrieved the case file for trial preparation, he said.

Stanforth said he has ordered reviews of all criminal cases involving confiscated money and the procedures his office uses. Any recommended changes will be made promptly, he said.

He also has ordered the installation of a 24-hour, digital-recording surveillance camera in the property room, where evidence is stored.

Stanforth said no public money is missing. The missing money was confiscated in a criminal investigation and was being held for trial. After court cases conclude, forfeited money goes into a special fund for law enforcement and investigations.

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