January 10, 2017
CADILLAC — Michigan State Police Lt. David Street noted something out of place in a photograph of a drawer that once was a repository for evidence money collected in MSP-investigated cases as he displayed the image to onlookers in a Wexford County courtroom.
"It is empty," Street said.
Authorities contend retired MSP Sgt. Malcolm Lindsey Irwin, 52, of Cadillac, is responsible for stealing $9,692 from that drawer at the MSP Cadillac post in 2014.
Irwin is charged with embezzlement by a public official, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, in Wexford County's 84th District Court. Judge Audrey Van Alst adjourned his Tuesday preliminary examination and will schedule it to continue with more testimony.
Street on Tuesday described the day Irwin walked into his office to alert him to the missing money – March 18, 2014. Irwin at the time was the sergeant tasked with caring for the evidence and cash in the post's property room.
Street said that was the day he collected post employees' keys and had a locksmith install a new lock for the property room. Access to the room was highly restricted and he knew the MSP would investigate the absent cash, he said.
"We are the keeper of evidence, as well as people's property," Street said. "Property they might want back or property that is illegal for any of us to own or possess."
But Irwin's attorney Stephen King refuted Street's and Grand Traverse County prosecutors' claims that Irwin was one of the few with access to the property room.
King contended the post and the property room were less than secure and expressed concern that the keys Street said he confiscated after the heist were missing. He argued troopers and sergeants often were in the property room logging evidence, where the cash drawer was labeled and keys to unlock it were visible.
"It's not a simple, straightforward matter," King said.
King argued keys to the property room could have been copied at any hardware store and contended troopers have stated there were master keys that could open the property room along with other locks at the post.
Irwin may have been the designated cash keeper, but he wasn't the only one who knew where it was or how to get to it, King said.
"The access to this post is unheard of," King said.
It took more than two years for special prosecutor Bob Cooney, of Grand Traverse County, to levy charges in the missing cash case now proceeding in Wexford County. Some of the missing cash – $1,400 – was evidence in a 2014 Grand Traverse County case in which in which Aubrey Rye, 53, was convicted of robbing a Wendy's in Interlochen.
Cooney reviewed financial records and a forensic audit before charging Irwin in November. Court records describe Irwin's financial struggles around March 2014 and state other troopers noted Irwin's odd behavior about the time the money was discovered missing.
Irwin retired in August 2014 and qualifies for a MSP pension