The Day, theday.com
BYLINE: Karen Florin,

Ansonia, CT

The case of a former Ansonia police officer charged with stealing and tampering with narcotics evidence has been transferred to the New London Judicial District to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest in the courts he worked with routinely as a police officer.

Matthew P. Macero, 41, who served as a police officer for 12 years, retired while state police conducted an investigation that resulted in his being charged in September with illegal alteration of records, second-degree larceny and possession of narcotics.

Macero, who is free on a $5,000 nonsurety bond, and represented by attorney Daniel Esposito, appeared Tuesday before Judge Hillary B. Strackbein.

His attorney entered a not guilty plea on his behalf and the judge continued the case to Jan. 6. Attorney Kevin Shay from the Chief State's Attorney's office is prosecuting.

Detective John Kimball from the state police Western District Major Crime Squad wrote in an arrest warrant affidavit that Macero had tested positive for cocaine and methadone and had been treated for addiction to painkillers and that the investigation determined he had exhibited "behavior consistent with class addictive and drug-seeking behavior."

Ansonia police started investigating in September 2013 after two officers reported seeing Macero, who was not an evidence officer, removing medication from a prescription medication drop box in the lobby that he was not authorized to access.

Macero claimed he was conducting a follow-up survey for the organization that had placed the box, then sent an email to somebody from the organization to create the appearance he was working with them.

Ansonia police conducted an internal investigation, then contacted state police after uncovering 16 instances of evidence tampering.

State police allege Macero, who often volunteered to help out in the evidence room, cut into bags of narcotics and resealed them after taking a portion, accessed a "burn barrel" where narcotics were stored before being destroyed and substituted nonnarcotics for drugs he had stolen.

The case coincides with a state police investigation involving the New London Police Department, where an audit of the agency's evidence/property room began after a March 28 incident at the Griswold home of the department's evidence officer, Russell MacDonald.

MacDonald resigned from the department on Aug. 11 after he was called in for a question-and-answer session related to an internal investigation, according to Deputy Police Chief Peter Reichard.

The FBI also was contacted, according to Reichard.

State's Attorney Michael L. Regan, who assigned the state police Central District Major Crime Squad to the case, said the investigation is ongoing. Regan has been sending letters to notify defense attorneys that the evidence in dozens of their clients' cases may have been compromised.

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International Association for Property and Evidence
"Law Enforcement Serving the Needs of Law Enforcement"
www.IAPE.org