Case closed in $18K missing from police evidence room - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Case closed in $18K missing from police evidence room

(FOX19 NOW Photo/Jody Barr) (FOX19 NOW Photo/Jody Barr)
CLERMONT COUNTY, OH (FOX19) -

In a press release issued Thursday morning, Clermont County prosecutor Vince Faris announced the end of a criminal investigation into $18,000 in missing evidence and cash from the Goshen Police Department property room. The case was investigated by the state's Attorney General's Office and the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

Today, the prosecutor announced the case is closed and no one has any idea how secured cash and property got out of the most secure section of the Goshen PD. 

In the press release, Faris wrote, Because of "the deficiency in the available evidence, neither investigating agencies recommended the initiation of criminal charges against any individuals," Faris wrote.

The case is now closed with no resolution.

We've reached out to prosecutor Vince Faris, Goshen Police Interim Chief Bob Rose and Sergeant Don Hampton this morning for comment on today's latest update in that case.

Rose responded in an email saying.

With all due respect, the spin that you put on your previous investigative reports involving the property room were appalling, designed for shock value and ratings... at the expense of honest, caring, and noble policemen. You took erroneous polygraph results and turned that into lying police. You stalked me with a video camera, knowing that I was not permitted to talk to you about the case, and you aired that footage to make it appear that I was guilty of something.

As for your request for an interview, I have consulted with the Township Administrator and have been directed to refer all media requests to the Clermont County Prosecutor.

As of this report, Hampton has not responded to our request. The Clermont County Prosecutor's Office has passed along our request for an interview to Faris, the offices told us. 

Goshen Police discovered the missing evidence during a March 2013 audit, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation's report shows. The department reported evidence missing in 26 separate cases.

After months of internally investigating the possible theft case, the Ohio Attorney General’s BCI took over the investigation from Goshen Police on August 26, 2013. BCI would spend 11 months trying to figure out what happened and who—if anyone—was responsible.

On June 4, 2015, we filed an open records request with Goshen Township, asking for their complete investigative file on the case. Goshen officials never responded to the initial request, telling FOX19 NOW in a July 29 email that the “Township has experienced a catastrophic failure with our electronic e-mail/responses and communication efforts came to a screeching stop,” Trustee Claire Corcoran wrote.

Corcoran said she was passing the request on to township administrator Lou Etheridge that day.

It would take more emails and calls before the township provided us access to the records. On Sept. 10, Goshen Township released the entire investigative file.

We filed a separate open records request with BCI on August 17. On Sept. 1, BCI handed over 741 pages of its criminal investigation—along with two recordings of interviews with two Goshen Police officers.

GOSHEN PD OPENS INTERNAL INVESTIGATION

In March 2013, Goshen Police Captain Bob Rose opened an internal investigation into the missing evidence. Rose, his report shows, was one of three people with a key to the evidence room. The other two were Sergeant Don Hampton and Officer Katie Davis. 

Rose has since been appointed as the town's interim police chief after the town let Chief Rick Combs go last week. 
Goshen PD Interim Chief Bob Rose
Davis, Rose’s report shows, was assigned to manage the evidence room while Hampton would serve as her assistant. The pair conducted an audit when Davis took over the job in March 2012, Rose reported. An audit then showed $39,808.40 in the safe, according to the Rose report. 

Davis would later leave on a medical retirement and Rose wrote that he and Hampton performed another audit when Davis left in December 2012. Davis no longer had access to the evidence room as of December 2012 because Hampton took Davis’ key away, Rose reported. 

Hampton and Rose were the only two with keys to the evidence room between December 2012 and March 2013 when Rose started work to “reassign another officer to the evidence room,” Rose wrote.

Hampton performed an audit on March 18, 2013 and discovered “that in 27 cases, cash and money orders that was supposed to still be in the safe, per the records, was unaccounted for,” Rose wrote in his report.

The unaccounted for cash totaled $17,550.94. All the cases belonged to Sergeant Ron Robinson, the BCI file shows.

Between March and August 2013, Rose continued putting together the internal investigation. Goshen’s file does not show the department turned the investigation over to an outside agency until August 13, 2013 when Trustee Claire Corcoran made a motion during a council meeting to forward the investigation on to BCI to have it independently investigated.

Corcoran told FOX19 NOW, she had several discussions early into the department’s internal investigation with former Goshen Police Chief Ray Snyder, asking him to forward the investigation on. Corcoran said she finally went public with a vote in August 2013 because she her requests for an external investigation were being ignored.

“No one would forward it until I gave the chief 30 days. He didn’t respond. I gave him 60 days, he did not respond. On the 90th day, I put it on the bench and asked for resolution to have this investigated,” Corcoran told FOX19 NOW during an interview last Fall. 

The BCI file shows a criminal case number was assigned to the Goshen PD case on August 26 and an agent was assigned to figure out what happened.

TWO GOSHEN COPS SUBMIT TO LIE DETECTOR TESTS

On August 28, 2013 Captain Rose finished his internal report and delivered it to Chief Ray Snyder. Two days later, the BCI agent in charge of the case read Captain Rose and Sergeant Hampton their Miranda Rights and interviewed the men about the details of the case. 

Before releasing the file to us, BCI attorneys redacted all the names of the people involved in the investigation. The agency explained in a letter to FOX19 NOW, it did so under an exemption in the state’s open records law that allows redaction of names of people “who at one point was thought to have potentially committed a crime, but were not charged with offenses.”

We were able to identify Rose and Hampton as the officers who took the polygraphs after both acknowledged taking the lie detector examinations through email communications with FOX19 NOW.

The BCI file shows Sergeant Don Hampton voluntarily agreed to take a polygraph examination at BCI’s offices in London, Ohio on Sept. 10, 2013. The examination dealt with questions about whether Hampton knew who might have stolen property from the evidence room and the polygraphist asked whether Hampton committed the act himself.

Excerpt from the BCI file, showing the results of the lie detector tests. Hampton, the report shows, denied “stealing any of the drug case money orders” and “denied knowing for sure who did,” the examiner wrote in her report.

The polygraph examiner, an Ohio Attorney General’s Office employee, wrote in the report that Hampton “did not tell the truth during the tests.”

The same polygraph examiner concluded the exact same results in the Bob Rose exam, according to the BCI file. Rose submitted to his lie detector examination on Sept. 12, 2013, denying committing any crimes related to the evidence room case or knowing anything about who did, the report states. 

Rose declined multiple requests from FOX19 NOW to interview. In a Nov. 18 email, Rose called the BCI report “flawed.” Rose continued, “Sergeant Hampton and I are good people who serve with honor and pride. We are not liars and we are not thieves. In the end, I am confident that the truth will prevail.”Hampton also declined to be interviewed, but did provide FOX19 NOW with his assessment of the BCI investigation, writing that it “was done so grossly inadequate it had to be redone by another agency.”

Hampton also told us he and Rose took a subsequent polygraph examination after the BCI examination and both passed. Hampton provided us a copy of what appears to be a report from a private polygraphist in Hamilton, Ohio. It’s dated August 20, 2014 and shows a list of questions that the report shows Hampton answered truthfully.

However, the questions detailed on the report do not match the ones Hampton was asked by the Attorney General’s polygraph examiner. We’re still investigating the private polygraph examination records Hampton provided to us.

The BCI file shows agents also tried to contact a female involved in the case. The female’s name is redacted as part of the investigative report and we were unable to independently confirm the identity of the female. The report shows BCI was unsuccessful in locating the woman to include her interview as part of their investigation.

WHAT THE CASE FILE SHOWS 

The BCI file shows every single case involving missing evidence was a case being investigated by Sergeant Ron Robinson. BCI records do not show that Robinson was ever interviewed as part of the investigation.

Robinson’s name is redacted throughout the BCI report for the same reasons the state gave us for redacting Rose, Hampton and the unidentified woman’s names.

Robinsons declined to interview with us for this report and told FOX19 NOW when we contacted him on his cell phone, “All I can tell you is our attorneys said not to talk about this without them present.”

“I was not involved with it,” Robinson added before referring us to the Fraternal Order of Police union lawyer in Cincinnati.

Sgt. Ron Robinson and Rose pictured in an archived FOX19 report. Our analysis of the 26 missing evidence cases shows Goshen Police rarely filed charges after seizing money and drugs. The 26 incident reports show there were 97 total suspects listed in the police reports. County clerk of court records show, 66 percent of the 97 suspects were never charged with a crime. 

Of the 38 people charged, 75 percent of the cases were later dismissed. 

SECOND CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION ENDED

BCI delivered its final report to Clermont County Prosecutor Vince Faris in May 2014. After a few months of pouring through the file, Faris called the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office to have that agency re-investigate the case.

“It was inconclusive, not complete,” Faris told FOX19 NOW. “They just didn’t arrive at any conclusion.”

Faris said he wanted a second outside agency to investigate the case to give the public a shot and having the matter settled and to give the Goshen Police Department a fair shot at having questions surrounding the case answered.

“Maybe nobody’s responsible for anything. It could be recordkeeping. We’ll see what the second investigation says,” Fairs said.

Hamilton County had the case for nearly a year and a half, Faris confirmed.

We questioned Faris about why, in the vast majority of the missing evidence cases, Goshen Police never filed any criminal charges against named suspects when most of the incident reports show officers seized marijuana, pills, cash and guns from them.

“It’ll always be a concern if there’s irregularities in the proceedings and things missing. I have not seen anything turned over to me by any investigative department to say that anything illegal has occurred in this matter,” Faris said.

As for the failed polygraph results, Fairs wouldn’t touch that.

“I’m not going to comment on anything that occurred in the investigation,” Faris said.

There are no other investigations into the matter, according to Faris.

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