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Springfield adds money, extends deadline for police evidence rooms audit

The Republican, MassLive,
BYLINE: Stephanie Barry |
Link to Article

Springfield adds money, extends deadline for police evidence rooms audit
Springfield extends deadline for evidence room audit

Springfield, MA

SPRINGFIELD - The city granted an additional $50,000 to a Boston-based consulting firm to complete an audit of the Springfield Police Department's evidence rooms after money was reported missing. (The Republican file)

According to an amendment to the original contract with Marcum LLP obtained by The Republican, the city increased its "maximum liability" from $120,000 to $169,500 around Sept. 2 - a few days after the company's original Aug. 31 completion date. That deadline has been extended to Nov. 30.

The city contracted with Marcum after Police Commissioner John Barbieri conceded that an undisclosed amount of cash had gone missing from the evidence room and he launched an internal probe starting in summer 2014. In the meantime, the state Attorney General's office began its own investigation.

The consultant's hourly rate will remain at $225 per hour, according to the amendment.

There has been little public discussion about the details of the audit, but at least one criminal defense attorney, Vincent Bongiorni, said previously that he sought a collective $21,000 on behalf of two clients whose cases had been dismissed or resolved and was told the money was gone. Bongiorni said the city returned the money nonetheless.

The Republican has a request pending regarding the current tally of money that has been paid to defendants or their lawyers after it couldn't be recovered by police, plus any outstanding requests.

Marcum originally agreed to perform a narcotics evidence room audit and "to provide expert testimony" at the request of the city solicitor.

The original contract said a team of police cadets, sworn officers and the consultants planned to review evidence stored in 65 drawers or boxes with approximately 150 bundles of evidence in each. It noted there were 10,000 pending drug cases generated by the Springfield Police Department.

The amendment shows a Marcum auditor informed Barbieri that the company was close to exceeding the amount of hours afforded by the contract and had more work to do.

"While performing the services, the consultant was required to spend more time than was estimated to audit the two (Springfield Police Department) evidence rooms on the second floor of Police Headquarters, due to the larger in number than expected evidence boxes, which were more labor intensive and slowed the process, and in addition, the services were expanded to a third evidence room in (Springfield Police Department) garage, requiring additional hours of audit time and additional time to prepare the final report," the amendment reads.

The overflow evidence room in the garage contains items seized from late 2007 to 2009, according to the amendment.

The final report will require 40 hours to complete, it notes.

The city has thus far declined to answer questions about access to the evidence rooms before the internal investigation began.

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