Albany Tribune, albanytribune.com
BYLINE: Albany Tribune
Paula Diane Bell
Oregon State Police (OSP) arrested one of their evidence technicians Wednesday following the alleged theft of money from the Department’s evidence room at the Newport Area Command office. The non-sworn employee arrested has been lodged in jail and placed on unpaid administrative leave pending an ongoing criminal investigation.
On Wednesday, OSP Criminal Investigation Division detectives arrested Paula Diane Bell, age 37, for Theft in the First Degree and Official Misconduct in the First Degree. BELL was located in northeast Oregon and transported by OSP to the Lincoln County Jail where she was lodged early Thursday morning. An initial arraignment in Lincoln County Circuit Court is scheduled at 1:30 p.m.
OSP started an investigation Wednesday morning after a sworn employee discovered the Newport Area Command office evidence room in a disheveled state including opened evidence packaging. During the day, an undisclosed amount of cash was determined to be missing. The exact amount of cash unaccounted for has not been fully determined.
OSP will be conducting an audit to determine what was unlawfully taken from the evidence room. A complete audit of the OSP Newport evidence room, as well as evidence rooms at the McMinnville and Tillamook offices, are pending where BELL was responsible for handling, storage, and disposal of evidence and other property. Bell was hired by OSP as an evidence technician March 31, 2008.
At the request of the Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office, the State of Oregon Department of Justice will handle the prosecution. OSP will brief area law enforcement partners of any potential impacts to pending cases.
OSP has 16 evidence technicians, most full-time employees, located with OSP area commands and worksites. They play a vital role in the support of all department divisions through the acquisition, maintenance and disposition of all agency evidence and other property.
No other information to be released at this time pending the ongoing investigation unless authorized by Department of Justice.
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International Association for Property and Evidence
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