Pubdate: Wed, 11 Jan 2017
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA)
Copyright: 2017 PG Publishing Co., Inc.
Author: Jonathan D. Silver


A part-time Donora police officer has been arrested for stealing 133 stamp
bags of heroin that were seized as evidence after the execution of a
search warrant.

James B. Johnson V, 29, of Monongahela, was charged Tuesday with several
drug offenses, theft, obstruction, tampering and misapplication of
entrusted property.

The charges were announced today by the Washington County district
attorney's office.

Authorities accused Officer Johnson of stealing the evidence following an
Aug. 10 seizure.

Police said Officer Johnson admitted to the theft and said he took the
heroin "for his personal consumption."

Officer Johnson could not be reached for comment. His status with the
department could not be determined, and Donora police Superintendent James
Brice did not return messages.

Donora police and the Washington County Drug Task Force served a search
warrant on a residence and vehicles in the borough. Authorities
confiscated 237 stamp bags of suspected heroin from the residence and
another 133 stamp bags from a vehicle.

The suspected heroin was packaged in two different manila envelopes, both
sealed with evidence tape and placed in a box on a table in the police
station's patrol room, a police affidavit said.

The next day, Superintendent Brice verified the presence of the envelopes.
They were not taken to the crime lab that day because of "unforeseen
police incidents," the affidavit said.

On Aug. 12, officers arrived to transport the evidence and found the
envelope that had the 133 stamp bags was missing.

Police reviewed video surveillance from cameras inside the police station
and found Officer Johnson was the only person who "handled and examined
items within the box of evidence numerous times" and without a legitimate
purpose, the affidavit said.

In November police interviewed Officer Johnson, who admitted to stealing
the envelope with the heroin.

"The defendant related that he went back and forth to the evidence box
multiple times because he was contemplating whether to take the heroin,"
the affidavit said.

Officer Johnson was arraigned and taken to the local jail. He posted bail
of $25,000.
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