I-Team: Missing evidence money refunded to alleged drug dealers

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) –  The Attorney General’s office continues to investigate, the city has hired a company to perform an audit and the 22News I-Team discovered who the city refunded the missing confiscated money to.

Missing money from the Springfield evidence room has led to an Attorney General’s investigation and a costly audit the city is paying for.

It’s also led to drug cases being dismissed and potential “drug” money being returned to alleged dealers.

The 22News I-Team discovered the city of Springfield has or will return at least $23,344.34 to eight people the police arrested on drug charges because the money they seized as evidence was missing.

The I-Team went through dozens of court records. We found that Errol Green had his case dismissed after he was arrested for possessing several pounds of marijuana. A court order shows that the police department couldn’t find the money they confiscated and were ordered to return $13,410.34 to Green.

His attorney told the I-Team the missing money is affecting the outcome of drug cases. “I’m sure it contributed to some verdicts and cases”, said Attorney Vincent Bongiorni.

The city also has to pay back Sherry Rodriguez $934 the police confiscated when she was arrested with more than 1000 bags of heroin since her case has now been dismissed.

Jalal Williams has been to district court at least 12 times since 2013. When he was arrested on a crack cocaine charge he had money on him. That case was dismissed and the city returned $800 to his lawyer.

Ayman Willoughby had $953 returned after his crack-cocaine case was dismissed.  Geneva Griffith was owed $3237, but her case is sealed.  Joseph Hargraves was owed $119.  Attorney Bongiorni also received $1323 on behalf of Angel Rivera and $2568 on behalf of Jose Carrucini.

The Attorney General’s office is investigating the missing money, which was revealed in March and the city hired Marcum Accountants to do an internal audit. The I-Team received a copy of their contract.  They’re analyzing 9750 samples and it’s costing the city up to $120,000 from the police budget. They have already started and need to be done by the end of August.  Marcum is the same firm that audited the state police crime labs. More than 1100 inmates were convicted over possibly tainted evidence in that case.

Police Commissioner John Barbieri wasn’t available this week, but Attorney Joe Smith told 22News the police have changed one policy already.  They are no longer holding drug money after 30 days, instead sending it to a bank to be held, similar to what the State Police already do.

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