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MSP evidence missing in 10 cases

Traverse City Record-Eagle,

Traverse City, MI

TRAVERSE CITY — About $9,666 is missing from evidence lockers at the Michigan State Police Cadillac Post, an official involved in the investigation said.

State police Detective Sgt. Rob Davis said 10 criminal cases were impacted and none of the post’s 22 troopers are suspects in the ongoing investigation.

Davis spoke at a hearing today about Aubrey Earl Rye Jr., a man accused of armed robbery and taking about $1,400 in cash from the Interlochen Wendy’s restaurant. The money, stored as evidence in a locker at the state police’s Cadillac post, is missing.

Rye’s attorney Randy Smith argued that the missing money — and the failure of state police to provide certain information about their investigation — cast aspersions on the agency's credibility.

“It certainly pertains to the believability or credibility of anyone in the state police office who wants to testify,” Smith said.

Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney said the issue of missing money is not relevant to the case because none of the troopers involved in Rye's arrest are suspects.

Thirteenth Circuit Court Judge Philip Rodgers agreed to ask state police to provide him with a draft of the incomplete investigation report, which he would first review in private. He also said the missing money would be fair game for Rye's trial.

“Witnesses will testify (the money) was taken from this gentleman during the course of the arrest. Whether or not jurors choose to believe that will also be able to reflect on the fact that it wasn’t kept very safely and is gone,” Rodgers said. “That’s why money shouldn’t go missing.”

Rodgers also expressed concern that state police hadn’t reviewed the financial history, including taxes, debts, and gambling and drug habits, of the police witnesses in Rye’s case and their families.

Davis said the money evidence initially is placed in a temporary locker and then moved to a “drug locker,” where money and drug evidence is stored.

“What it is is a filing cabinet and it’s got a steel device that goes down through and that’s padlocked,” Davis said. He said 10 people have keys to the drug locker room, and then a key to the locker is stored in the room.

Davis would not provide other details about the investigation, such as whether the locker was broken or whether a key was used, because it is ongoing.

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