The Asheville Citizen-Times (North Carolina)
BYLINE: Jon Ostendorff,
HAYESVILLE - Two Clay County men face charges of stealing drugs from the Sheriff's Office evidence room while they were working on an inmate cleaning crew.
The men, according to court papers, stole methamphetamine from the evidence lockup and then took the drugs back to the county jail.
Dwight McClure, 29, is charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance in jail, conspiring to traffic methamphetamines, stealing evidence, breaking and entering, larceny and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Fellow inmate Nicholas Shorette, 23, faces the same charges. Both were scheduled for initial court appearances on Tuesday.
The thefts happened July 5. The men were in the county jail waiting for court hearings on other charges when they were assigned to the cleaning crew. Sheriffs often use inmates on work details under close supervision.
Sheriff Joe Shook last week declined to discuss the details of the case, saying the crime was still under investigation.
He did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Following the theft charges, District Attorney Michael Bonfoey asked the sheriff to inventory his evidence room and determine how many items were tampered with.
The prosecutor, in a letter to Shook, has requested a report on each piece of evidence.
Those reports will be provided to defendants as part of discovery in each case.
Bonfoey said he's not concerned about items like electronics or even weapons that have identifying serial numbers or unique marks made by the officers working the cases.
"But fungible items like marijuana leaves or powered drugs or even pills, you can't tell one from another," he said. "You have to take a closer look at those items to see if there is a problem. Obviously someone unauthorized going into an evidence room breaks the chain of custody."
Bonfoey said his office would look at each case individually to determine if the evidence is usable in court.
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