INGHAM COUNTY, Mich. (WLNS) – When then Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth first told 6 News about the evidence problem last fall, he said a major sewage leak had destroyed an unknown amount of evidence compromising a couple of cases.
But after a meeting with Ingham County officials tonight, we know that number is actually 79 cases that have been dismissed.
22 of those cases were felonies and 57 of those cases were misdemeanors.
“This was unacceptable, it was inappropriate and as the County Commissioners mentioned it’s embarrassing for them, it’s embarrassing for law enforcement, for the prosecutor’s office…but now we move forward,” said Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon.
After word broke that dozens of criminal court cases dating back to 1993 were mishandled by the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office, Prosecutor Siemon insists tonight this will never happen again.
“We’re going to work on record retention and evidence retention policies for the entire county…just documenting, really documenting everything,” Siemon stated.
Sheriff’s officials say it was a sewage leak into the evidence room that brought this problem to light but according to current Sheriff Scott Wrigglesworth, “a colossal failure in leadership” played a big part.
“There were a lot of different bad policies, a lot of different failures to manage, failures to supervise,” said Sheriff Wriggelsworth.
Lack of leadership or not, the report states the mishandling of evidence was due to a lack of procedures and training and that standards weren’t followed when it came to tagging evidence, transporting drugs to the Michigan State Police crime lab, logging money or updating evidence in the record management system.
The report also indicates that individual officers were making inaccurate choices to destroy evidence.
And when asked what these cases involved…
“Solely the cases where warrants were actually issued and are authorized,” Prosecutor Siemon stated.
Prosecutor Siemon says the sheriff’s office intends to initiate an audit every month for the entire year to make sure this never happens again and for the prosecutor’s office…
“What we will do then is probably on a regular basis probably quarterly do a random selection of open cases following their audit,” Siemon stated.
Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth is holding a news conference Friday morning to discuss the findings of the report in full detail.
6 News will be sure to keep you updated with any new information on this developing story.