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Former deputy charged with embezzling from Berkeley County Sheriff's Office

Herald Mail Media, heraldmailmedia.com

Berkeley County, WV


Crime scene

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A former Berkeley County Sheriff's Office deputy was indicted Wednesday in connection with the embezzlement of more than $5,000 in guns from the law-enforcement agency and then selling the firearms, which were either purchased by the department or being stored in evidence lockers.

Dennis E. Streets of South Tennessee Avenue in Martinsburg was indicted Wednesday by a Berkeley County grand jury on single counts of felony embezzlement and felony fraudulent scheme, according to the indictment released by Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely's office.

The alleged crimes occurred between October 2008 and March 2013, the indictment said.

The indictment alleges Streets sold 13 guns to Glockcop LLC by falsely representing to firearms business owner John C. Vinson or his agent that he owned or had the authority to sell the weapons.

The indictment alleges Streets pocketed more than $1,000 from selling the guns to the firearms business, which is at 4625 Winchester Ave. south of Martinsburg. The exact amount of money that Streets was paid for the guns was not specified in the indictment.

The firearms, estimated to be worth $5,685, included a Colt Python .357 revolver that was valued at $1,250, the indictment said.

Warrants previously issued in Berkeley County Magistrate Court charge Streets and his wife, Amber Streets, with misdemeanor counts of petit larceny are pending, according to court records and Games-Neely.

The misdemeanor offenses stem from the pawning of Streets' service weapon at Frazier's Pawn Shop in Martinsburg, Games-Neely and police said.

Streets, who held the rank of captain when he resigned in January, was the only person in charge of the sheriff's office's evidence lockers at the time the guns were taken from there, Games-Neely said.

"Nobody had any idea this was going on," Games-Neely said.

The investigation of Streets was triggered by another deputy's question about "a very distinct gun" that was being kept in a safe at the sheriff's office, Games-Neely said.

The inquiry led to the discovery that the gun was missing, which then prompted investigators to look at the evidence lockers, Games-Neely said.

Sheriff's Deputy Sgt. B.F. Hall said Jan. 30 that an investigation of missing items at the sheriff's office was under way. The next day, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed it also was assisting in the investigation.

Less than a week earlier, Streets, in a Jan. 25 memorandum to Sheriff Kenneth Lemaster Jr., said he was retiring from the department, where he had worked since 1982.

“After 32 years, it is time for me to move on,” Streets said.

Games-Neely said all of the guns taken from the evidence lockers were connected to cases that had been closed.

When it comes to disposing of firearms, those that cannot be returned to their original owners can be converted for department use or destroyed, Games-Neely said.

Orders accounting for the disposal of the weapons are required, and guns that are destroyed are typically ground into pieces, Games-Neely said.

Games-Neely said the ATF has not informed her office what action the federal government might take or the status of its investigation.

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