Former North Slope Borough evidence custodian pleads guilty to stealing money from evidence
Updated at 8 p.m. on Monday, June 20
A former North Slope Borough Police Department (NSBPD) evidence custodian has pleaded guilty to a charge related to stealing more than $100,000 from from an evidence room, according to federal court documents filed Friday.
Margaret Solomon worked for the NSBPD from November 2006 to July 16, 2012. On Friday, she signed a plea agreement, pleading guilty to a single count of interstate or foreign transportation of stolen property.
A 2014 FBI audit of NSBPD discovered at least $207,563.96 was missing from evidence, from more than 80 evidence envelopes, after records clerk Sonja Ault discovered evidence was missing in February of 2013, according to a statement from John Boyle, the director of government and external affairs for the NSB mayor’s office.
“The defendant stole the money by retrieving evidence envelopes containing cash from the evidence room, and removing cash from those envelopes. In many cases, the defendant, as evidence custodian, knew which evidence items contained cash,” her plea agreement stated. “When she had emptied an evidence envelope of all its cash, the defendant would return the empty envelope to the evidence room.”
She also destroyed many of the cash envelopes, according to the plea agreement. Solomon admitted to stealing at least $109,623 from evidence.
“The defendant used some of the cash that she stole to play pull tabs in Barrow, Alaska, and deposited some of her pull tab winnings into her Wells Fargo account. Often the defendant used the cash that she stole from the evidence room to gamble online, namely, slot games on Facebook,” the agreement stated.
Because Solomon did not keep accurate logs of how much she stole or from which case, it was unclear exactly how much she took, according to the plea agreement. It was also noted NSBPD also did not lock the evidence room and it was frequently left unattended during business hours.
KTVA reached out to NSBPD to find out what changes, if any, were made to the department’s evidence handling policies. Boyle responded with the following statement:
The NSBPD added controls such as limiting access to the evidence room to the evidence custodian and upgrading equipment such as inoperable safes. The Borough also hired a nationally certified consultant to perform an evidence inventory and to assist with revamping policies and procedure relating to the handling of evidence by the evidence custodian.
Internal policies were also updated in regards to handling money and narcotics. The NSBPD is currently in the process of acquiring records and evidence management software to further strengthen evidence handling procedures.
Attempts by KTVA to contact the FBI were not successful.
Solomon’s plea agreement includes $109,623 in restitution to NSBPD, but recognizes the court may sentence her to further restitution or fines. She faces up to 10 years in prison, along with a maximum fine of $250,000.
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