I-Team 10: Money missing from evidence

Posted at: 07/01/2013 5:32 PM
Updated at: 07/01/2013 6:09 PM

There is money missing from the evidence vault at a local police department. Police say they can't find $15,052 to be exact.

This happened in Hornell in Steuben County and the police chief and district attorney have now called in the New York State Police to conduct a full investigation.

The chief of police was rather tightlipped about many of the details of the missing money, but I-Team 10 did get him to answer a few questions about the case.

Chief Ted Murray, Hornell Police Department, said, “I have concluded that the money seized upon Mr. Brockway's arrest on March 10, 2012 is missing and unaccounted for.”

Hornell Police Chief Ted Murray reading from a prepared statement in what has become an embarrassing and serious situation within his department. Fifteen thousand and 52 dollars in blood stained money was being held at the police station as evidence. The money belonged to Steven Brockway who was arrested after stabbing a man. Last month in a pre-arranged deal, he pled guilty and will spend nine years in prison.

But he also agreed to apply that $15,052 toward restitution to compsensate Mercy Flight for flying the victim to a Rochester hospital after the stabbing.

David Morabito, Brockway's attorney, said, “Evidently when they were looking for the money for restitution a few days ago, it was uncovered that it's not found in the evidence vault at Hornell Police Department."

I-Team 10's Brett Davidsen asked, “So any indication where this money went?”

Morabito said, “You'll have to ask someboy down in Hornell?”

So I-Team 10 spoke with Chief Murray, who said an extensive search of the evidence room turned up nothing.

Chief Murray said, “There's no other records that I can find that indicate the money was placed in another location other than our evidence room."

Davidsen said, “So it had never been signed out for any purpose or anything?”
Murray said, "There's no records I can find, yes."

Police seized the $15,000 from Brockway at the time of his arrest. His attorney says it was not unusual for his client to be carrying around that much money because he used it to buy materials and pay employees of his construction business. Morabito says he is awaiting more information to determine if it will impact his client's recent guilty plea.

Morabito said, “I'll have to analyze the facts and circumstances. I don't know how it will impact the plea at this point. But clearly there's some issues. And if that evidence is missing, what else is missing?"

Reached by phone Monday, the district attorney says no other evidence from the case appears to be missing.

Davidsen said, “So how easy would it be for somebody to walk in there and just $15,000 in their pocket?”

Morabito said, “To me,  it would be impossible if proper protocol is establish."

What that protocol is, is not clear. Murray wouldn't answer many of I-Team10's questions, citing a pending state police investigation into the missing money. But Murray did say that the evidence vault was restricted to only a handful of people.

Davidsen said, “As chief of police who has a lot of pride in his officer and his department, what has this done to you personally having to go through this and learning about this?”

Chief Murray said, "It's a very tough thing to go through, but I still have the utmost confidence in my officers."

The district attorney says he and the chief will meet with state police on Wednesday to turn over information so they can launch a full-scale investigation. He also doesn't believe the missing evidence will impact the plea agreement.  In his opinion, they had other strong evidence including witnesses, DNA and a weapon.