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Bradshaw admits forging initials but denies fraud

August 04, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - A former West Virginia State Police sergeant on trial for mail fraud admitted Thursday in U.S. District Court that he forged officers' initials on evidence reports and made other managerial mistakes as the Martinsburg detachment supervisor, but he denied contriving a scheme to steal thousands of dollars in seized cash.

"It was common knowledge how to get into the evidence room ... you wouldn't have to do that," said George William Bradshaw III, referring to continuous problems with the handling of evidence at the State Police detachment in Martinsburg.

Bradshaw, who took the witness stand on the fourth day of his jury trial, said handling evidence was one of the biggest problems of his job.

Jurors tasked with the case are scheduled to hear closing arguments this morning from Bradshaw's attorney, Craig Manford, and assistant U.S. Attorney Paul T. Camilletti before receiving instructions from Judge W. Craig Broadwater.

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The federal government's case alleges that Bradshaw, 58, intentionally altered officers' reports to provide him cover for taking thousands of dollars in seized currency and mailing false statements to the state treasurer's office in Charleston, W.Va.

"Where's the $1,402?" Camilletti asked about one of eight cases highlighted in the federal government's indictment of Bradshaw, who retired from the State Police after more than 32 years of service.

"You tell me," responded Bradshaw, who calmly denied knowledge of how $18,542 identified in an audit, apparently was taken from the agency's headquarters off Edwin Miller Boulevard.

Bradshaw declined to say other officers took the money, which he had ordered to be deposited into an interest-bearing bank account in Jefferson County, the site of the agency's regional Troop 2 headquarters.

"I don't know where the money's at. I have no idea," Bradshaw told Camilletti, who dryly laughed more than once at the defendant's explanation for handling records meant to track evidence.

Bradshaw said his alterations to reports, including forged initials of officers, were done to account for seized cash and other property in advance of inspections by superior officers. S.L. "Sid" Sponaugle, Troop 2's captain at the time, was alerted about the incomplete forms and at least one official in Charleston was made aware of the circumstances, Bradshaw said.

While commander of the Martinsburg Detachment, which he described as a "hectic rat race," Bradshaw said he discovered "voids" between case numbers and assumed officers were hurried and missed them.

"I filled these gaps in with other evidence," Bradshaw said.

In response to one set of case documents included in Camilletti's paper trail of government evidence, Bradshaw explained how he had blood taken from a man who admitted to driving under the influence for a second time.

Bradshaw said he "cut him a break" and gave the man a second chance on the condition he didn't see him again after verifying the accused had entered a guilty plea to the first DUI charge.

Another officer did see the man and later arrested him for DUI, Bradshaw admitted.

The blood evidence obtained from the man after the second incident was noted on forms belonging to another case, Bradshaw said. In another instance, Bradshaw said he wrongly assumed that blood samples stored in a refrigerator at the detachment was from a DUI, not from a burglary investigation where the suspect had bled at the scene of the crime.

Manford obtained multiple concessions from State Police Sgt. Scott Dillon, who investigated the case, that appeared to cast doubt on the prosecution's case. The prosecution is alleging Bradshaw continued to cover up the fraudulent scheme of stealing seized currency by mailing state treasurer forms that listed "no unclaimed property" for the fiscal year 2000-01.

Manford contended the seized cash cited dozens of times in Camilletti's presentation of evidence didn't meet a three-pronged, state code definition of "unclaimed property" and therefore did not need to be included on the forms.

Dillon acknowledged steps were taken by officers to have the seized currency forfeited and claimed by the government.

Dillon maintained that $950 found on the road at the scene of an arrest of individuals suspected of drug dealing should still have been considered "unclaimed" and included on the treasurer reports.

"...It could have been there a week," said Dillon, despite hearing earlier testimony from officers who endured cold and windy conditions the night of the arrest.

Indicted in November on one count of mail fraud, Bradshaw was the detachment's "evidence custodian" when authorities said money taken from alleged drug dealers and others arrested between 1999 and 2002 disappeared. Bradshaw could be sentenced up to 20 years in prison and fined $250,000 if convicted of the mail fraud charge.

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