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Missing money probe in limbo

August 09, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.VA. - West Virginia State Police have turned down a request to conduct an investigation into the disappearance of $7,665 that was seized by the Shepherdstown Police Department, and Mayor Lance Dom on Monday mentioned the possibility of asking another police department to look into the matter.

Shepherdstown Police Chief Curtis Keller said he was told last week that the state police would not investigate the matter.

State police suggested the police department conduct the investigation itself, Keller said.

The $7,665 was seized following a traffic stop that Shepherdstown police conducted Feb. 21, 2004, in town, according to police department records.

Police became suspicious of a car and while an officer was struggling with a passenger in the car, a large amount of money fell to the ground, a police report states.

More that $7,000 was recovered as part of a police search, the report says. Police also found a white powdery substance believed to be cocaine, a bag of marijuana and several Ecstasy pills, the report says.

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Keller, who came to the department in December 2004, said former Shepherdstown Police Department officer Chris Roper informed him of the seized money after Keller arrived to take over the department.

Keller said there was a discussion in the department about the money about two weeks ago, but the cash could not be found.

A large envelope containing a report about the case was found in an office, but there was no money in the envelope, Keller said.

Keller declined to speculate what happened to the money.

"Somebody had to know something," Keller said Monday.

Former Police Chief Charles Cole on Monday said the seized money had gone through the forfeiture process.

"My position is it was there after I left," said Cole, who resigned from the department in October 2004.

Dom said there was a "bit of a vacuum" in the police department between the time Cole left and when Keller took over.

Although Dom expressed doubt Monday about determining what happened to the money, he mentioned the possibility of another agency looking into the matter, such as the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

Capt. Rob Blair of the West Virginia State Police said his agency feels the Shepherdstown Police Department should handle any investigation into the missing money. Blair said the state police handles its own internal investigations, mentioning the recent investigation into missing money at the Berkeley County detachment of the state police as an example.

In that case, former state police Sgt. George William Bradshaw III, 58, of 614 E. Moler Ave. in Martinsburg, W.Va., was found guilty Friday of mail fraud in U.S. District Court in Martinsburg.

The case involved documents that investigators suspected were altered by Bradshaw. The alterations, U.S. Attorney Paul T. Camilletti argued, were made by Bradshaw to cover up the disappearance of thousands of dollars seized from drug dealers and others from 1999 to 2002.

Blair acknowledged that police investigating their colleagues in such cases is difficult.

"But they have to be done," Blair said.

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