I-Team: NOPD Evidence Vault Probe Closes With No Arrests

New Orleans Hearst Television Inc., WDSU-TV, wdsu.com
Link to Article

New Orleans, LA

Amount Missing From Warehouse Surpasses $250,000

2010-03-08_I-Team NOPD Evidence Vault Probe Closes With No Arrests_01
Report: No Notice Given Of Missing Cash Evidence

NEW ORLEANS -- The internal investigation into thefts of property from a secured New Orleans Police warehouse has ended with hundreds of thousands of dollars still unaccounted for.

The WDSU I-Team first reported the problem in 2008. Since then, the department has conducted its own investigation through the NOPD Public Integrity Bureau.

That investigation has now ended with no arrests and more than $250,000 still missing, sources told WDSU.

In late 2008, attorney Rick Teissier told the I-Team that thousands of dollars belonging to one of his clients had vanished from the warehouse.

Officers took $35,900 from the client when he was arrested in 2007. Teissier said he was given only $18,000 when he went to pick up the man's property a year later.

"The superintendent said arrests were imminent about 30 months ago," Teissier said.

But to date, no one has been charged.

Assistant Police Superintendent Marlon Defillo confirmed Monday that the Public Integrity Bureau has concluded its probe into the matter. The PIB has turned its findings over to the Detective Bureau, which will handle any further action.

"I think what they have done with this investigation is malfeasance in office," Teissier said. "Officers are involved in this. It's just their way to pass it off to someone else.

"They just don't want to come forward with who is liable for this."

In 2008, Police Superintendent Warren Riley said unnamed officers were being looked at in connection with the thefts.

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NOPD Evidence RoomWDSU

A series of I-Team investigations revealed hundreds of thousands of dollars had gone missing.

Photos obtained by WDSU showed chaos inside the evidence storage facility, including drug bags tossed in corners and weapons being stored in barrels.

Sweeping changes were made a short time later and outside experts said the moves appeared to improve both organization and security at the evidence room.

Teissier said that alone isn't enough.

"I think (U.S. Attorney) Jim Letten should get involved tomrrow and it would take the FBI weeks to get it," he said. "It just shows the incompetency of the NOPD."

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