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Hartford Police chief accused of selling prescription pills from drug collection box

Two dozen Hydrocodone pills that went missing from the Hartford Police Department drug collection box

September 6, 2022

A West Michigan police chief is accused of stealing and selling painkillers from a police collection box designed to take drugs off the streets, according to unsealed court documents.

Two dozen Hydrocodone pills that went missing from the Hartford Police Department drug collection box were cited as evidence in a search warrant used in the ongoing criminal probe of Tressa Beltran, Hartford Police chief.

An investigation began when Van Buren County Sheriff's Office Narcotics unit received an anonymous tip of possible narcotics use and sales at the Hartford Police Department involving Chief Tressa Beltran, according to the affidavit for a search warrant.

Judge Michael McKay authorized a search warrant for deputies to seize Beltran's cell phones and other electronics kept at the Hartford Police Department June 30, according to a copy of the search warrant. 

The Michigan Attorney General's Office is investigating and will determine if any criminal charges will be filed against Beltran.

"My client right now is anxiously awaiting results of investigation and maintains her innocence," said Beltran's defense attorney Don Soppanos.

A spokesperson for the Attorney General's Office declined to comment due to the ongoing investigation.

"I think the attorney general wants the case, if there was one, to be neat and tight as possible and I think she's going to take her time in making this decision," Soppanos said.

Beltran has been on paid administrative leave from the department since the June 30 search.

As part of an investigation, a South Haven Police detective and member of the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Team advised Beltran he dropped off 10 bottles of controlled substance in the Hartford Police Red Med Box on June 24.

"He (the detective) advised Beltran he was placing some controlled substances in the Red Med box so he didn't have to drive around with them," according to the affidavit for a search warrant.

Two of the bottles contained Hydrocodone with a black dot in both the cap and bottle, according to investigators.

The Hartford Police Department participates in a Van Buren County Sheriff's Office Red Med box program which collects approximately 2,000 pounds of unused medication each year.

Beltran is the only member of the six-person Hartford Police Department staff with a key to access the Red Med Box, according to investigators.

On June 29, investigators returned to Hartford Police Department to request the medication for destruction.

Beltran requested they return the following day and told investigators she cleaned out the container and took them into evidence, according to court documents.

Beltran then told the two members of the narcotics team she needed 15 minutes and asked them to return.

The detectives watched Beltran get her in her car and drive away before she returned with a large gray trash bag filed with prescriptions, according to court records.

A detective noticed the bag was torn open and not secured like the bag placed in the drug drop-off container, according to court records.

A bottle dropped off with 17 Hydrocodone pills was returned with four pills missing and a second bottle with 20 pills was returned empty, investigators said.

The Van Buren County Sheriff's Office is responsible for destroying the drugs collected in the boxes at local departments, including the Hartford Police Department.

Beltran began her law enforcement career with Hartford Police as an officer in 1989 and was named chief in 2016.

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