Buncombe County has released a sheriff’s evidence-room audit report citing “poor management, poor organizational skills and failure to maintain a clear chain of custody” during the administration of former Sheriff Bobby Medford. The report, which was the subject of an in-depth article in today’s Asheville Citizen-Times, is dated May 2007.
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 and 14 percent of located items had been compromised. With a 91 percent error rate, the audit was expanded to to a complete inventory before evidence rooms were released to the new Sheriff’s administration.”
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.”
Furthermore, items that could not be accounted for included $217,769 in cash, 233 hand guns, 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.”
This audit may lend weight to allegations made to Xpress by former deputy Brenda Fraser in the course of this newspaper’s investigation of the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department and former Sheriff Bobby Medford. Fraser, who worked in the department’s administrative office during Medford’s tenure, said that “Bobby gives guns from the evidence locker to his friends.” At the time, Xpress could not corroborate Fraser’s assertion.
Xpress stories about possible misconduct during Medford’s 12 years as sheriff have included: “The Long Arm of the Law,” June 26, 2002, “Questionable Conduct?” Oct. 23, 2002, “More Questions in Medford Incident,” Nov. 6, 2002, “Buncombe Justice on Trial,” June 18, 2003, and “Wanna Bet?” July 20, 2005.
Medford’s attorney, Bob Long, told Xpress he knew nothing beyond what had been reported today in the Asheville Citizen-Times. “That paper reported that he has referred all questions to [County Manager] Wanda Greene,” Long said.
As of the time of this posting, Greene was not available for comment.
— Cecil Bothwell, staff writer