Pittsburgh police investigate how $8,000 went missing from drug bust
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City of Pittsburgh investigators are trying to determine why $8,000 was missing during at least one recount of seized money conducted at police headquarters this year.
Cheryl Doubt, the narcotics commander at the time of the seizure, confirmed that the bureau asked the city Office of Municipal Investigations to review its response to a January drug case in which officers seized more than $93,000. It is not clear whether the money was found and Cmdr. Doubt declined to comment on whether the $8,000 had been accounted for.
"We believe it was just that he misread the slip. We believe it was a clerical error," Cmdr. Doubt said. "Until the investigation is complete, we don't know."
Officers from the city's Zone 4 station in Squirrel Hill pulled over a silver GMC Yukon when its driver failed to stop at the intersection of Thomas Boulevard and North Murtland Avenue in North Point Breeze about 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 7.
When they smelled marijuana, they asked all four people inside the car to get out, according to a criminal complaint filed against one of the passengers.
One of the officers, Lawrence Odille, spotted a black nylon bag with "numerous bricks of U.S. currency" on the floor of the car between a juvenile passenger's feet.
Officers found possible Ecstacy on the juvenile passenger and marijuana on Wesley Smith, 55, of Homewood, who was charged with drug possession, according to the complaint.
Thirteen officers and a lieutenant worked on the arrest.
Lt. Craig Campbell, who formerly worked in the bureau's narcotics and vice unit, instructed the officers not to count the money but to instead stick it in bags and transport it to the city's Zone 4 station, where it would remain until they could take it to headquarters to arrange for an ion scan that would determine whether drugs were present on the money.
The Zone 4 officers later received permission from an officer working in narcotics and vice to count the money at their station and they came up with a total of $93,153, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
At some point after that, the money was counted again and came up $8,000 short.
Assistant Chief of Investigations George Trosky, who oversees the narcotics and vice unit and others, did not return messages. Acting Chief Regina McDonald did not respond to a request for comment Thursday night.
First Published March 15, 2013 12:00 am