Auditor reveals APD evidence room a mess, mayor calls situation “appalling”

Tonight, July 24, Asheville City Council heard the first public report on the Asheville Police Department evidence room, revealing a state of deep disarray. Mayor Terry Bellamy called the situation “appalling,” and the auditors estimated it will take at least two years to sort out.

Last year, shortly after news emerged that guns, drugs, and money were missing from the APD evidence room, Council approved paying $175,000 to Blueline Systems & Services for an independent audit. That audit was completed in January, but District Attorney Ron Moore has withheld the results, stating that there are ongoing investigations related to the case.

What the company found, Blueline’s Mike Wright reported at the July 24 meeting, was a mess. Items were on the floor, blocking doorways and overflowing from the shelves, while evidence that was supposed to be disposed of wasn’t. Auditors also located several boxes of cash that were designated “school fund.” There’s no apparent paperwork for the cash. and the auditors couldn’t determine its legal status.

While some areas were fine, Wright noted, the overall situation is bad enough that it will take at least two years to completely sort out.

APD Chief William Anderson went a step further, calling the timeline “conservative.”

Bellamy called the situation “appalling” and wanted Anderson’s assurances that such disarray “will never happen again.”

“This situation is horrendous to look at,” she said, adding that the city needed to restore the public’s trust and that the failure of the evidence room put lives at risk.

Anderson said that the APD was already interviewing for a new evidence-room manager and would follow strict standards in making evidence more secure from now on.

After Anderson mentioned it would be helpful to see the recommendations contained in Blueline’s finished audit, Council directed City Attorney Bob Oast to draft a letter asking Moore to release that portion. The audit is currently in Moore’s custody. Local media, including Xpress, have sued the city and Moore for failure to turn over the audit.

In other action, Council:

• Unanimously passed a resolution asking Gov. Bev Perdue to veto HB 1009, a bill that, among its provisions, would allow a Metropolitan Sewerage District to run a water system. A legislative committee headed by Rep. Tim Moffitt has recommended that Asheville’s water system be transferred to the local MSD.

• Voted 3-4 against allowing skateboarding on some downtown streets. Local skateboarders have pressed Council to amend city rules and allow skateboards as alternative transportation, suggesting a “four wheels down” safety requirement. However, most of Council expressed safety concerns, saying skateboarding is impractical downtown. Bellamy and Council members Jan Davis, Esther Manheimer and Marc Hunt voted against the relaxed rules; Council members Gordon Smith, Chris Pelly and Cecil Bothwell voted in favor.

• Voted 5-2 in favor of the Hunter Apartments project, which will convert two abandoned houses near downtown into duplexes. However, the support was not enough to pass the project, because surrounding neighbors had filed a valid protest petition, which means six votes are necessary for passage. The neighbors told Council that allowing the project would increase density, something they asserted would harm their neighborhood. Vice Mayor Esther Manheimer and Council member Jan Davis agreed. The project’s supporters said it would eliminate a neighborhood eyesore while bringing affordable housing close to the city’s core.


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14 thoughts on “Auditor reveals APD evidence room a mess, mayor calls situation “appalling”

  1. glolady

    It is hard to keep the fox away from the chickens when he is already in the hen house.

    The City did Ron Moore a “Favor” when he chose the auditor for them. Stop Covering Up The Corruption or Go Down With the Ship. Look up the City Council meeting when this was Ok’d.

    Tim Moffitt has Michael Muller working for him? Promises, Promises, Promises everything then screws the people in the end… go figure…

  2. tatuaje

    “That audit was completed in January”

    Actually, per your tweets last night, the audit was NOT completed.

    ?@DavidForbes Wright: Blueline could finish audit, but would need more funding. #avlgov

    This is a big deal and needs to be investigated more. Someone screwed up here. Either the City or Blueline.

    Why isn’t the audit complete? What does it say in the contract? Was the $175k supposed to pay for a complete audit or not?

    • Bill&Suzi

      Great questions!

      Also, does Blueline and/or Wright have any conflicting relationships with the police dept. or Moore?

      Who are these people? What’s their audit track record?

      Are they really “independent” of this mess and he people involved?

    • tatuaje

      Those are great questions as well, Bill & Suzi.

      Turns out it’s hard to find much information about Blueline on the interwebz. They don’t seem to even have a website.

      They are run by Michael W. Wright who also runs a telephone system company at the same address as Blueline.

      He’s also apparently a lawyer. Does he know Ron Moore through a court connection perhaps?

  3. “Was the $175k supposed to pay for a complete audit or not?”

    My impression from the smoke and mirrors presentation last night is that the evidence room audit would cost $175K. $350K if you want it done right.

  4. D. Dial

    How long was the evidence room allowed to fester? Who did Hogan and Anarino answer to????

  5. bsummers

    “Unanimously passed a resolution asking Gov. Bev Perdue to veto HB 1009”

    Finally. Bullies need to be stood up to.

    • I agree. The bullies in the Democrat Party have created a 100+ year monster by giving us a state with no home rule.

      I will join you in standing against them. Power to the people!

    • bsummers

      Mr. Peck, when you were banned from Scrutiny Hooligans, I advocated that you should be re-allowed to comment there, since you had taken the respectable step of running for City Council.

      When someone else on these threads revealed your home address, I insisted that this was an unacceptable violation of your privacy and asked that the person responsible be sanctioned by the moderators.

      Last night on this website you called Councilman Gordon Smith a “f***ing p***y” (you apparently haven’t been sanctioned for this, but I won’t take the chance that I would be for re-stating it).

      I am done even pretending that you are worthy of debating with.

  6. cwaster

    Fox in the henhouse indeed. It appears persons with access to the evidence room gave themselves “bonuses” of guns, cash, and possibly drugs. Apalling. I also wonder when charges will be filed, and the report-paid for by tax money-will be released instead of swept under the rug by Moore.

  7. D.Dial

    I can see why it took the threat of legal action to get City Council to put this on the agenda. Just how unimportant is/was the evidence room to our “leadership’?

  8. glolady

    On May 24, 2011 at City Council Public comment:
    Dr. Milton Byrd, Mr. Lisa Landis and Rev. Christopher Chiaronmonte spoke to the need of public access via the WNC Community Media Center.

    Ms. Dixie Barkdoll was opposed to the auditor who will be performing the Police Department audit.

    The video of the meeting will not download for me to view. Can anyone else access the meeting on May 24, 2011? Maybe the Guiding Light got that one too? This is the meeting that Ron Moore appeared in front of City Council asking them do do him a favor and hire the auditor of the evidence room he recommended. BUT I can’t find it in this meeting or the ones before?

    Dixie Barkdoll was the Producer of “What’s Really Going On In WNC?” at URTV. That was one of the shows that local Government wanted to Silence because it exposed too much corruption.

    Here is one of her shows:

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