Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Contact:  http://www.ctcentral.com/
Pubdate: 17 Sep 1998
Author: Robert Storace

PROBE OF $28,000 THEFT FROM POLICE AT ISSUE

ANSONIA - Fed up by what it sees as an investigation going nowhere,
city leaders this week demanded the Chief State's Attorney personally
expedite the investigation into how $28,000 in cash ended up missing
from the police department's evidence room.

"Someone in the city is collecting benefits while also laughing at the
city. Someone in the police department is benefiting from the money
and drugs," said Alderman Joseph Cassetti, R-2. "Someone is
obstructing justice and, personally, I'm fed up waiting for answers."

The aldermen voted this week to ask Chief State's Attorney John Bailey
handle the investigation.

Chris Morano, chief of operations for the chief state's attorney's
office, has been overseeing the investigation for 14 months. City
leaders are outraged they have received little feedback from Bailey's
office.

"I have heard from the community on this, and they are distraught. I
have written to the chief state's attorney on two occasions asking for
an update on the case and no one ever responded. We have a right to know
what's going on, but we have heard nothing," Mayor Nancy Valentine
said.

In May, Police Chief James J. McGrath said publicly for the first time
that he believes someone within the department stole the money, along
with narcotics.

In April 1997, police confiscated $28,194 in cash, 374 small bags of
cocaine and 15 grams of rock cocaine from two individuals, identified
by police as Frederick Kollock of New Haven and Walter Day of
Bridgeport. The money and a large amount of drugs were discovered
missing from the evidence room soon after the items were placed there.

"More than enough time has gone by. The investigation has been going
too slow," aldermanic President Peter Danielczuk said.

Bailey said late Wednesday that he would "respond to the aldermen
immediately" when he received their request.

"I certainly believe they should be given an update. We have put a lot
of time and effort into the investigation," said Bailey, who declined
to elaborate on the status of the case or when it may be completed.

Morano was not available for comment.

McGrath declined to comment on the status of the case, except to say,
"I have confidence that the state's attorney's office is doing the job
they should be doing. I get updates from them, but I can't talk about
them."

The theft of the money led to the dismissal of the charges against
Kollock and Day. They still face a forfeiture hearing in Superior
Court in Derby. Prosecutors must convince a judge the money was
connected to illegal drug trade. 

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Checked-by: Rich O'Grady