Thursday, March 2, 2006

APD Targets 2 In Evidence Case

By T.J. Wilham, Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writer

The Albuquerque Police Department is investigating two officers to determine whether one— or both— helped cover up missing property from the evidence room while it was being investigated by the state Attorney General's Office.
Although neither officer has been charged, Police Chief Ray Schultz said he plans to issue "harsh" punishment in the case.
The two officers, who were partners, are blaming each other for allowing two civilian evidence room clerks to have access to property logs.
Attorneys for officers Robbin Burge and Scott Lopez say their clients are innocent.
The internal investigation, which started last fall, is the last of many evidence room probes. It started after the city's Independent Review Office noticed discrepancies in evidence room logs.
Schultz said he is awaiting the results of a lie-detector test for Burge.
A temporary restraining order prevents APD from giving her a lie-detector test, and a hearing on the restraining order is scheduled next week. Lopez already took a lie-detector test, which his attorney said he passed.
"We are in a situation where this is someone's word against someone else's word," Schultz said. "There are some questions that still need to be answered. That's why I need the (lie-detector test). ... Based on what I know now, there will be discipline. ... It will be harsh."
According to court records and police reports obtained by the Journal, Burge claims that Lopez was having a relationship with an evidence room clerk who was a target of the attorney general's investigation.
That investigation determined that more than $58,000 was missing from the evidence room and that criminal conduct had occurred. However, no one was prosecuted in connection with the missing evidence.
When questioned, both detectives said the other was responsible for allowing the clerks access to the logs.
Both clerks, who were civilians, were terminated from the department for other reasons.
Rob Perry, who is representing Burge, said his client was a primary source in the IRO's investigation.
After she came forward with the information about her partner's involvement, APD launched an investigation into her, Perry said.
"We don't have a problem taking a fair (lie-detector test). We do have a problem taking theirs," Perry said. "It's concerning they even want to do one given all of the evidence against my client's accuser."
Lopez's attorney Peter Schoenburg said his client has done nothing wrong.
Both officers have remained on duty during the investigation. Burge remains a detective, and Lopez has been promoted to sergeant.
"This investigation is the last thing that needs to be done with the evidence room," Schultz said. "This is us making sure that everything with the evidence room is dealt with.
"I am doing everything I said I was going to do. We are addressing everything and are not going to brush anything under the carpet."

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