Wednesday , May 09, 2018 - 1:49 PM
A Weber County Sheriff's Vehicle is shown here Thursday, April 5, 2018, in Ogden.
Possibly dozens of criminal prosecutions have been compromised or ruined by the tampering and destruction of evidence, according to an internal investigation report into the January firing of the Weber County Sheriff’s Office evidence custodian.
The issue surfaced Dec. 8, when a deputy reported a suspicion that the evidence tech was under the influence. Later testing revealed the employee, who was not a sworn officer, was on methamphetamine. The employee was fired Jan. 8 and the sheriff’s office announced the termination via news release in February.
The custodian, a civilian sheriff’s employee, is suspected of stealing drugs and cash for up to three years, and the evidence room itself is in a disarray, according to the report.
“The integrity of the WCSO Evidence Room has been broken … and the successful prosecution of cases with evidence located in the WCSO evidence room has been affected,” said the report, obtained with a public records request.
Here’s how you, the readers, reacted when we posted the story revealing the details of the evidence room to our Facebook page:
All comments are verbatim.
Shelly Graffice Mott: "Bafoonery" does not even begin to describe what has gone on here! As a taxpayer and law abiding citizen of Weber County.....I am OUTRAGED! No one should be getting paid leave or a retirement due to this incompetence! How many people have been victimized repeatedly because law enforcement looked the other way! Shame on You Weber County Sheriff department....Shame on You All!
Eva-Marie Stanger: This is so discouraging! So many missed opportunities to do the right thing. Grateful for the majority of LEOs that are doing their jobs faithfully & diligently.
Dawn Nelson: Sound like they need some checks and balances in that evidence room. Need to rotate people so same people are not always in there and do inventory checks more often. So sad for people who have already been victimized to have evidence handled in a manor that would destroy their chance to get justice.
Trisha Yarrington: This whole thing makes me sick!!! These poor victims who will never get the justice they deserve!
Sharon Wendt: How could it have gone on so long?!!
Don Kelly (in reply): To answer that question, the SO had one evidence custodian to handle evidence submissions from the entire Sheriffs Office. On occasion, one detectives evidence submissions could take hours to prepare. The custodian would then need to sort, store, and record that property by herself. Some of the property would have to be moved by hand across the parking lot to another storage area. While the SO has grown considerably over the last 20 years, the same can’t be said about the evidence room staff. It wasn’t unusual to see piles of property in there, but it sounds like it got a lot worse. The object lesson here is when you’re overwhelmed at your job quitting may be a better option.
After the initial story about the disarray in the evidence room was published, the Standard-Examiner’s editorial board called for Weber County Sheriff Terry Thompson’s resignation. Here’s what you had to say about that:
All comments are verbatim.
Drew Howells: Sheriff Terry Thompson was too busy going on speaking tour with the UMA and worrying about the erections of medical cannabis users while spreading reefer madness propaganda to notice his methhead employees destroying and tampering with evidence.
The whole lot of them needs to go, Terry and his heir apparent Kevin Burns that Thompson is trying to set up to win his seat this November.
Angela Urrea: This is what happens when promotions are made by the good old boy network under a veil of secrecy and with no oversight by the self serving county commissioners. Tax dollars wasted, crimes unsolved, the justice system perverted. This is what happens when we have government by cliques and not by the voters who have been helpless to change this corrupt governmental body. Didn't have this mess when the Democrats controlled county government.
Todd McCrary: Agreed! We need to hold these people accountable. We need a sheriff that is from outside the complex to start fresh. And for the sheriff to not know of the evidence room fiasco? You think securing evidence to arrest and convict the criminals to protect the victims would be of utmost importance. Once again government has failed us.
Pamela Rasmussen McKinnon: Gotta love all the hidden standards. Hmmmm. Watch who else you vote for people, far too shallow gene pool in Weber County government all around. Time for some private sector peeps to step up!! No more government employee/elected officials.
Meanwhile, over at the Davis County Sheriff’s Office, new details emerged about into the actions of three deputies who were investigated for sexual harassment.
The investigation, which began in January after female jail employees came forward, concluded in March. One deputy quit before disciplinary actions were formalized. Another was put on unpaid leave for five days and the other for two days, while the two commanding officers were demoted.
According to investigative documents, female staff referred to the deputies as “team sexual harassment” and said they would flirt with new female employees, harassed them for phone numbers and otherwise pestered the women with sexually suggestive banter. The report also including physical incidents, such a deputy grabbing a clerk’s buttock while she used an exercise machine in the jail gym in 2016.
The harassment went on for at least two years.
All comments are verbatim.
Melisa Salony-Russell: Ummm... If they're treating fellow employees this way, how are they treating inmates...?
Susan Wallace: This is awful but please don’t judge all the people that work there by a few . This is awful behavior by a few bad apples ,but don’t throw the department under the bus.
Pamela Rasmussen McKinnon (in reply): I'm getting pretty tired of hearing how most are good guys. The leader of the department is corrupt and/or inept and many tolerated and enabled this and other ridiculous behavior. I'm pretty skeptical of most LEOs at this point sadly. Waaaaay too many bad apples. I'll change my mind when the good ones start turning on the bad.
Mary Korth Johnson: Completely and totally unacceptable!!! The good ole boys crew needs to be shut down.
Catherine Matthews: Fire the lot, vote in a new sheriff, sexual harassment classes every year!
Breein Donoviel Fluman: This isn’t just a termination issue... this is actually criminal. These women reported... it is the HR department AND the supervisor’s responsibility to report these incidents to law enforcement... oh wait such BS
Bonnie Peterson Flint: What? The same county that's known for strip searching women for minor legal infractions? Shocking. /sarcasm
Eladio Pauel Flores: We need a full overhaul on our local justice system.
Michael Stark: A perfect reason why we need a free press.
Reach digital producer Jessica Kokesh at 801-625-4229 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow her on Twitter at @JessicaKokesh or Facebook.com/ByJessKokesh.