Missing guns, drugs and money at Buncombe Sheriff’s Department

A routine audit performed by the Buncombe County Finance Department last December during the transition from outgoing Sheriff Bobby Medford to his successor, Van Duncan, has come up short of cash, weapons and drugs seized during criminal investigations. The Asheville Citizen-Times, which obtained a copy of an internal evidence-room audit report released to the SBI and other government entities in early June, broke the story on June 7.

Somthing’s missing: The executive summary of the Evidence Room Inventory Audit Report, which has sparked a local media frenzy over indications that drugs, guns and money once in the custody of the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department cannot be located.

The report, the first page of which is reproduced at right, cites “poor management, poor organizational skills and failure to maintain a clear chain of custody” during Medford’s 12-year administration. Auditors selected a 30-item sample from the evidence-inventory database. The result of that examination revealed major problems, according to the report: “The audit disclosed that 50 percent of the sample was no longer in evidence inventory; 27 percent of the sample could not be located.”

The full audit revealed “poor inventory management” and “evidence bags found open with contents missing,” and noted that “[t]he lack of controls and management in the evidence room created an environment that could lead to previous court convictions being overturned or future cases being compromised.”

Among the items that could not be accounted for were $217,769 in cash, 233 handguns, 114 shotguns/rifles, and drugs noted on 1,318 evidence-reporting sheets. In addition, the report says, “Numerous evidence items were found with no case identification markings including drugs, guns and rape kits.”

Medford told the Citizen-Times that the missing guns had been buried in concrete in the new jail addition and that District Attorney Ron Moore could verify his story. (Moore has since said that he cannot, and other county officials have disputed the explanation.) Maintaining that nothing had been stolen, Medford noted, “As you can tell, if I had any goddamn money I wouldn’t be living in any $350-a-month apartment.” He also said the reason the auditors had found empty evidence bags, cash in unmarked envelopes or strewn on the floor and unlabled rape test kits was that the county had failed to provide money to renovate the evidence room.

On June 7, Medford’s attorney, Bob Long, told Xpress he knew nothing beyond what had been reported in the Citizen-Times. “That paper reported that he has referred all questions to [County Manager] Wanda Greene,” Long said.

At press time, Greene was not available for comment.


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About Cecil Bothwell
A writer for Mountain Xpress since three years before there WAS an MX--back in the days of GreenLine. Former managing editor of the paper, founding editor of the Warren Wilson College environmental journal, Heartstone, member of the national editorial board of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, publisher of Brave Ulysses Books, radio host of "Blows Against the Empire" on WPVM-LP 103.5 FM, co-author of the best selling guide Finding your way in Asheville. Lives with three cats, macs and cacti. His other car is a canoe. Paints, plays music and for the past five years has been researching and soon to publish a critical biography--Billy Graham: Prince of War:

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2 thoughts on “Missing guns, drugs and money at Buncombe Sheriff’s Department

  1. Daniel Brown

    I can’t find any follow up articles on this serious issue. This Medford character is obviously
    at best, disgracefully incompetent and at worst, a brazen criminal, ie: a fox in the hen house. I look forward to follow up stories on the remains of the evidence room of the Buncombe county sheriff’s department.

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