September 24, 2016
BRAINTREE — Colleagues of Susan Zopatti, the officer in charge of the Braintree Police Department evidence room, saw her exhibit strange behavior in the months leading up to an investigation that revealed rampant mismanagement of police evidence, according to The Boston Globe.
Zopatti, 50, killed herself in May, roughly one week after she was informed that an audit of the evidence room would be conducted.
The audit would reveal that over $400,000 was missing from the evidence room, as well as somewhere between 60 to 70 guns. Additionally, "thousands" of drug samples were found to be missing, or mismanaged.
As a result of the compromised evidence, over 30 drug cases have already been thrown out by Norfolk County prosecutors. Other cases are expected to be dropped soon.
Now, a number of Zopatti's former colleagues claim that she had acted strangely in the months previous to the investigation.
Though described as "funny" and "loving" by some, other officers claimed that Zopatti often seemed "impaired" or "hungover" while on the job, and may have been on some type of substance.
Reports also allege she had been struggling to take care of her ailing mother during the months leading up to her suicide.
Several people close to the investigation told The Globe that Zopatti was a "problem employee" by 2012, and was often missing from her post, or "chronically late."
The police chief at Braintree attempted to fire Zopatti during that period when he discovered evidence that she had been smoking cigarettes – which police officers are forbidden from doing in Massachusetts.
However, disciplinary officials didn't approve of firing Zopatti, so she kept on at her position.
However, Zopatti's husband – Mark Zopatti – has said the accusations pertaining to substance abuse are baseless. "It's wrong. I know it's wrong," he said. "I know they're lies."
Zopatti had served in the Braintree Police Department for 21 years, beginning her service in 1995.