A recently retired police sergeant with the Hollywood police department is under investigation. Sgt. John Nevins was in charge of the evidence room for the past few years, and officials say as much as $175,000 could be missing from that room.
According to the Miami Herald, nearly everyone who worked in the evidence room for the past few years is being looked at, but Sgt. Nevins was videotaped being let in through a backdoor and leaving with boxes.
Nevins says he was collecting boxes to fill with donated gifts for the needy. When contacted by local press, he said he was unaware of any investigation.
The evidence room holds items seized in criminal investigations. This could include things like clothing with evidence on it, drugs, and stolen property, but also cash. Depending on who you ask, anywhere from $125,000 to $175,000 of the cash was found to be missing in a recent audit.
Also under investigation is a civilian employee in evidence who let the retired Nevins in to retrieve the boxes. Since he is retired and no longer an active employee, he shouldn’t have been in the room where evidence crucial to criminal cases is kept.
The integrity of evidence must be maintained for a criminal case that hinges on such evidence to stick. In other words, the missing money could throw an untold number of cases in the air—potentially leading to overturned convictions or dropped charges.
This isn’t the first time the evidence room has seen problems. Five years ago, the room made news when a civilian retired, leaving it in “gross disarray”. Incidentally, that’s when Nevins took over.
Nevins asked for a financial audit at the time because things were missing that should have been there and the room was a “complete mess”.
Cops are human, flaws and all. But, particularly when an officer or a unit is tasked with maintaining evidence, integrity is a must. It could be the money was lost in an accounting error, as much paperwork and tracking must be done to account for all of the property in an evidence room. But, it could be more sinister.
When evidence is mishandled, the consequences can be far reaching. In many cases, mishandled evidence is cause to get a case thrown out of court, or get the charges reduced.
Whether you are accused of drug dealing or assault, the evidence against you could mean the difference between a guilty verdict and a dismissal. Contact us today to discuss your case and how we may be able to help.