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February 22nd, 2011
Potheads Do the Darndest Things

Two men who were working on renovations at the Florence Police Station are in jail after they were accused of taking 48 pounds of marijuana from the evidence locker.

Scott Raymond Burgert, 45, Old Cloverdale Road, Florence, and Bradley Thomas Jones, 40, Calhoun Street, Florence, are both charged with first-degree theft of property and trafficking marijuana, Florence Police Chief Rick Singleton said.

The two men were part of a construction crew involved in remodeling the first floor of the police department, officials said.

“I’ve always said I would put everything on the table (in regards to the department) — the good, the bad and the ugly,” Singleton said. “Today is the ugly.”

The chief said the two men were putting in an exhaust fan in the evidence vault to take out fumes from confiscated drugs stored there.

Singleton said the marijuana, from a case made in 2004 that had been adjudicated, was scheduled for disposal. It was on a top shelf in the vault.

Singleton said the marijuana was in four compressed packages stored in one box.

“The marijuana was removed a little at a time, over a period of three days, by the two men,” Singleton said.

He said the men were on ladders within arm’s reach of the boxed marijuana.

“This is no reflection on the company these men were working for,” Singleton said. “This was their choice, but they didn’t get away with it.”

Singleton said during the course of the project, which was completed Jan. 31, an employee or employees were present at all times when the construction workers were in the vault.

He said Burgert and Jones are accused of working together to conceal what they were doing and remove the marijuana by hiding it in work tools.

Singleton said the theft was discovered Tuesday and an investigation was immediately launched.

“Upon completion of the (remodeling) project, an audit was conducted (on the evidence vault) at which time it was discovered that some of the evidence was missing,” Singleton said. “An investigation was launched and information was obtained that implicated the construction workers who had been working in the vault.”

Authorities said the department received a tip that helped lead to the arrest.

“After we got information on who was believed to have been involved, we got a warrant and then executed the warrants at the residences,” Singleton said.

Police said Burgert was arrested Wednesday night, while Jones was taken into custody early Thursday.

Singleton said during a search of the two residences, about four pounds of what’s believed to be the stolen marijuana were recovered.

The Lauderdale Drug Task Force said the marijuana, because of its condition and age, had about a $10,000 street value.

Investigators said some of the marijuana recovered was so old that it was moldy.

Singleton said nothing else has been found missing from the vault.

He said there was some neglect in what happened and that’s been addressed through an internal investigation.

The chief said new security measures will be put in place, such as installing security cameras inside the evidence vault.

“This is an unfortunate incident, but we’ve learned a lot of lessons from this and we will take actions to make sure nothing like this happens again,” the chief said.

Burgert and Jones are being held in the Lauderdale County Detention Center on bail of $30,000 each.
 


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