UPDATE: Former evidence tech charged in missing drugs case - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Former evidence tech charged in missing drugs case

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BECKLEY (WVVA) - Charges have been filed against a former evidence technician at the Beckley Police Department who authorities say has admitted to taking pills from an evidence locker.

Gabriella Brown, 31, of Beckley, is expected to plead guilty to charges of obtaining prescription drugs by fraud and misrepresentation.

The charge usually carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison, Goodwin said.

As part of her plea agreement, Brown admitted to taking 22 oxycodone pills from the evidence room at the department. She also admitted to taking drugs from the department in the past.

No other charges have been filed at this time, but US Attorney Booth Goodwin says the investigation is ongoing.

Police Chief Tim Deems said in August that the investigation into the missing drugs was prompted after Brown took a sudden medical leave.

View WVVA.com's initial report on missing drugs 

The US Attorneys Office took over the investigation shortly thereafter.

First on WVVA: Feds take over investigation

Raleigh County prosecutor Kristen Keller said in August that the missing evidence put 'scores' of drug cases from the previous 15 months in Raleigh County in jeopardy to ensure the integrity of the evidence has been preserved.

Following is the full news release from U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin following Friday's news conference:

BECKLEY, W.Va. – U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin today charged a former Beckley Police Department (BPD) evidence technician with illegally obtaining oxycodone. The charge follows the BPD's announcement in August that prescription pain pills were missing from its evidence room.

According to a court document Goodwin filed this morning, Gabriella Brown, 31, of Beckley, W.Va., committed a federal felony by obtaining controlled substances by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception and subterfuge. Brown was employed as the BPD's evidence technician at the time the missing evidence was disclosed. The charge against Brown was filed in a court document known as an information, which often indicates that the defendant is cooperating with prosecutors. Brown faces up to four years' imprisonment.

"Prescription drug abuse damages continues to take a toll on communities all over southern West Virginia," said U.S. Attorney Goodwin. "I'm committed to doing everything possible to get this problem under control."

The Drug Enforcement Agency Tactical Diversion Squad is in charge of the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Steven I. Loew is handling the prosecution. 

The charge comes in the midst of a major push by Goodwin's office to combat the illicit sale and misuse of prescription drugs.  The U.S. Attorney's Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down illegal pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of opiate painkillers in communities across the Southern District. 

Note: The charges contained in an Information are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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BECKLEY (WVVA) - U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says an announcement will be made Friday on the findings of the federal investigation into missing drugs from the evidence room at the Beckley City Police.

Approximately 200 prescription pills were unaccounted for at the department in August. Goodwin doesn't believe the missing evidence will impact any federal drug cases, but Raleigh County prosecutor Kristen Keller was forced to dismiss several cases due to the missing evidence.

Goodwin's office and the DEA have been leading the Beckley investigation.

Goodwin spoke to WVVA News on the situation while in Summers County for an event about senior safety.

 

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