A police department would be well-advised to screen very carefully those individuals it employs to take charge of the drug evidence that it seizes and keeps for presentation in court. One who performs that particular job must have a mentality that can rise above greed and other temptations. The issue arose recently when Louisiana state police arrested a 42-year-old trooper on drug charges and other offenses.
The man, an 18-year veteran of the force, was the evidence custodian for investigative operations for the state police in northern Louisiana. The charges include malfeasance in office, payroll fraud, conspiracy to distribute cocaine and distribution of cocaine. He was jailed and suspended from duty pending an administrative investigation. Although not specifically explained, the clear implication of the drug charges is that he stole drug evidence and distributed it illicitly.
Police denied that he stole from unfinished cases and stated that all compromises of drug evidence pertained to cases already ended, where the drugs were slated to be destroyed. That’s fortunate for the prosecutors because if evidence was taken from cases not yet ended, all such prosecutions for drug charges would be placed in extreme jeopardy. As it is, a person convicted in any one of the ‘completed’ cases might want to request an investigation into the details to determine if the case was compromised in any way.
The Superintendent of the State Police made a statement castigating the accused severely, and not seeming to leave open any possibility that he might be innocent. He made no mention of the presumption of innocence. He portrayed the investigation as one conducted by the troopers and promised that the state would punish its own if need be. Police arrested another man on drug charges in the case, alleging that he participated with the trooper in a conspiracy to distribute the drugs.
Anyone arrested in Louisiana on drug charges should preferably obtain counsel early in the matter and make a thorough investigation of the details of the case. The evidence must be categorized and evaluated. If it is overwhelming against the accused, then a discussion with counsel regarding the benefits of an agreement would be beneficial. If there are strong defenses, then the accused may choose a different strategy to follow.
Source: redsticknow.com, “Louisiana State Police Sergeant Arrested for Drug Distribution,” March 20, 2013