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Mar 20, 2013 12:08 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Drugs, Money May Be Missing From Southampton Town Police Headquarters

Mar 20, 2013 1:42 PM

Southampton Town Police Chief Robert Pearce said this week that he has launched an internal investigation into how his predecessor, former Police Chief William Wilson Jr., shuttered the now defunct Street Crime Unit.

But that investigation may run into a roadblock, according to police sources within the department, who say that much of the evidence discovered by Mr. Wilson in the Street Crime Unit office has recently disappeared from a secure storage room at headquarters where evidence in criminal cases is kept. The evidence allegedly was discovered missing last week after Chief Pearce himself asked to see it.

Mr. Wilson last week for the first time publicly described finding drugs and money strewn about the office in early 2012 as the unit, which conducted undercover drug investigations in the department, was being decommissioned.

The probe, Chief Pearce said, was prompted by Mr. Wilson’s comments in The Press last week about how cash and drugs were left lying around unsecured in desks and cabinets in the unit’s office. Suffolk County Crime Lab testing of the drugs, ordered by Mr. Wilson shortly after they were discovered in early 2012, revealed that there was cocaine, small amounts of marijuana and several prescription pills.

A police source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing retribution by superiors, said the evidence seized by the former chief had been picked up on June 29 after being analyzed by the county and was properly logged into the department’s system—a receipt shows that it was picked up and logged in at police headquarters, then put in the locked storage facility—but has since disappeared.

Officer Tim O’Flaherty, president of the Southampton Town Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, the police union, confirmed the confidential source’s report on Wednesday. He said he has been informed that the items seized from the Street Crime Unit office were logged in at the Town Police headquarters but that “now, supposedly, nobody knows where it is.”

Officer O’Flaherty said that no information about the evidence has been shared with him or other officers by Chief Pearce but said that the officer in charge of the property room, Officer Theresa Tedesco, has been told that the evidence is missing and that she would be held accountable.

“With concern to my officer, the problem that I have is that other people have access to that room,” Officer O’Flaherty said, adding that the chief and any of the department’s lieutenants could access the property room at any time on their own. “That one officer has been down there for four years, handled thousands of pieces of evidence—and the one thing that is missing is this? That seems suspicious.”

Officer O’Flaherty noted that both Lieutenant James Kiernan, who headed up the Street Crime Unit, and Chief Pearce would have had unfettered access to the evidence room.

Chief Pearce could not be reached for comment on the allegation of the missing evidence on Wednesday morning. But in an interview on Tuesday—before the source had provided information about the missing evidence—he had noted that the evidence “could be in a number of spots,” but did not offer specifics. Asked if it was in the property room, he declined to comment, citing his investigation.

He also said that cash found in the Street Crime Unit office, photos of which were published in The Press and at 27east.com last week, was “buy” money used for drug buys and in prostitution stings, and that it was all properly logged. He lamented the publishing of the photos and said he was taken aback by the way the money, especially, was presented. One photograph showed bills arranged by denomination in rows across a tabletop.

He also maintained that the drugs found loose in the Street Crime Unit office had been properly logged and secured. The lockers in the office, he said, were locked and had to be opened with bolt-cutters when the evidence inside was seized by Mr. Wilson.

“We’re looking into how that office was mothballed,” Chief Pearce said. “They dismantled it, but was everything put in its proper place and properly accounted for? There are certain things that don’t make sense. All the file cabinets were thrown out. I don’t know why. I don’t know if I’ll ever know why. We just want to review how the process was done.”

“I’m looking to move forward,” he said, adding that he has been in touch with Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota’s office. He asked shortly after becoming chief in December 2012 if there were any issues with the department that he needed to know about. The answer, he said, was no. “They’ve told me there are no pending investigations into Street Crime,” he said.

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wow. another bombshell. The silence from the Supervisor and Town Board on this whole affair is utterly astounding. Great job Southampton Press/27east.
By GlassHouses (64), anywhere on Mar 20, 13 2:03 PM
5 members liked this comment
Should we really be surprised that chickens go missing when the fox is watching the hen house?
“With concern to my officer, the problem that I have is that other people have access to that room,” Officer O’Flaherty said, adding that the chief and any of the department’s lieutenants could access the property room at any time on their own. “That one officer has been down there for four years, handled thousands of pieces of evidence—and the one thing that is ...more
By OU812 (161), East Quogue on Mar 20, 13 2:07 PM
What "suspects died in custody"?
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Mar 20, 13 3:54 PM
"Following Mr. Bradway’s arrest, Police Officer Eric Sickles told then-Sergeant James Kiernan, the supervisor of the Town Police’s now-defunct Street Crime Unit, that he believed Mr. Bradway may have swallowed some cocaine. Sgt. Kiernan ordered Mr. Bradway to be brought to police headquarters in Hampton Bays, the lawsuit states. Sgt. Kiernan processed the arrest and recalled that Mr. Bradway, after initially acting normal, began to provide inconsistent answers, prompting Sgt. Kiernan ...more
By OU812 (161), East Quogue on Mar 20, 13 4:15 PM
Sounds like he committed suicide.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Mar 20, 13 4:30 PM
Suicide is what you interpret? Interesting perspective to say the least.

Though Bradway was most likely ingesting the drugs to prevent more evidence being used against him the police have a legal AND moral obligation to safeguard the people in their custody (no matter how bad they think the people are) I am sure there are procedures in place that cover this type of incident, which likely to be like anything else in this litigious society - Get medical treatment. Bradway may have died even ...more
By OU812 (161), East Quogue on Mar 20, 13 5:42 PM
He's only "Starting his investigation" because he's been caught with his pants down and has to figure how to cover it up and pass the blame to others. Keep the pressure on him he'll squeal like a little pig. He's weak.
By lifesaver (118), speonk on Mar 20, 13 7:51 PM
1 member liked this comment
NOW does everyone agree there is a problem in Kansas, Toto?

Time for some LEADERSHIP from the Town Board and Supervisor IMO.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 20, 13 2:31 PM
2 members liked this comment
Chief Pearce is pulling the wool over everyone's eyes. He was the lieutenant when this nonsense went on now he wants to investigate himself? Get a special independent investigator and throw these idiots out.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 20, 13 3:14 PM
2 members liked this comment
No need for anymore facts, chief1 read the headline and figured it all out.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Mar 20, 13 3:55 PM
Your like a troll you comment on everything I say. I said get an independent group to investigate does that sound like I have an opinion of guilt? No one ever does anything wrong at the SHTPD they just get promotions.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 21, 13 12:05 PM
That should be "you're" not your. Read the story, the DA stated that there were no ongoing investigations.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Mar 23, 13 2:03 PM
["sigh"] Another week, another STPD scandal. If only the Weather Channel forecasts were so reliable.
By highhatsize (4216), East Quogue on Mar 20, 13 4:23 PM
3 members liked this comment
Isn't there a chain of custody policy in the dept?
By number19 (111), Westhampton on Mar 20, 13 4:53 PM
Time for a Shake up. An independent investigator is needed.
By kpjc (161), east quogue on Mar 20, 13 4:56 PM
2 members liked this comment
Chapter two of the newest crime novel "Kiernan & Sickles". Looking forward to chapter three.
By auntof9 (158), Southampton on Mar 20, 13 6:30 PM
The local departments have a long history of shady dealings and sloppy management, especially when it comes to investigating their own practices and alleged misdeeds. We pay them among the highest LE salaries in the nation so they can live well in the local community but many then sell their services on the private market and sometimes double their income. And some then misbehave with little or no repercussions. This continues because many folks don;t want to alienate an agency that they feel ...more
By Funbeer (273), Southampton on Mar 20, 13 8:07 PM
2 members liked this comment
I would not be surprised if Chief Pearce acts on an anonymous tip that the missing items are under the driver's seat of one of Wilson's vehicles.
By vaquero (12), Watermill on Mar 20, 13 8:45 PM
1 member liked this comment
They can plant evidence, and they can make it disappear...Well that's quite a reputation they have created for themselves. Can any DA work with that?
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Mar 20, 13 9:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
STPD's evidence room has been compromised and any pending cases that are attached to evidence are now in question. It is no longer one or two officer's cases that are suspect, it is now a whole police department whose cases are tainted. Lock that evidence room down!
By Geppetto (59), Southampton on Mar 20, 13 10:34 PM
3 members liked this comment
Gepetto's point is important. Broaden it to include ALL past convictions which turned on evidence which passed through this evidence room, and a possible wave of motions to overturn convictions may be pending IMO.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 20, 13 10:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
Where are the Town Board and Supervisor on this?

Will a press conference be called?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 20, 13 10:51 PM
1 member liked this comment
They are in denial and hoping this blows over by November.
By OU812 (161), East Quogue on Mar 20, 13 11:20 PM
3 members liked this comment
From the New York Times: "Southampton Chief At Center of Storm" --

More quotes:

-- "ACRIMONY is the order of the day at the Southampton Town Police Department"

-- " ''We continue to have confidence in the chief's ability to run a well-supervised and disciplined department, and our citizens continue to enjoy good policing,'' Mr. Kenny said."

-- "this is the lowest that morale has ever been"


Is this article from recent days? No it was on June 19, ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 20, 13 11:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
The only apparent change in decades was Chief Wilson. Once he started cleaning up the house they ran him out of dodge
By OU812 (161), East Quogue on Mar 20, 13 11:43 PM
"Chief Pearce could not be reached for comment on the allegation of the missing evidence on Wednesday morning. But in an interview on Tuesday—before the source had provided information about the missing evidence—he had noted that the evidence “could be in a number of spots,” but did not offer specifics. Asked if it was in the property room, he declined to comment, citing his investigation."

Let's hit the replay for similar responses,
"Last week, then-Lieutenant ...more
By OU812 (161), East Quogue on Mar 20, 13 11:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
Southampton Town Board -- we are listening . . .
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 21, 13 7:25 AM
Amazing. I think every officer and administrator of the Town should be sent
packing. There seems to be corruption everywhere and the town trustees and
supervisor seem to allow it all to happen. The DA needs to dig deep and actually
do something about this NOW. This police force is paid way too much and this is what we get. I am just plain amazed.
By localcitizen (110), Southampton on Mar 21, 13 12:36 PM
3 members liked this comment
There is a Town Board meeting scheduled for next Tuesday, March 26th at 6 PM. The Agenda will be set at today's work session.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 21, 13 12:49 PM
Many thanks to the Southampton Press for its continuing coverage of this very disturbing issue. Thanks also for the excellent editorial this week focusing on the ongoing problems in this troubled police department - and actually challenging us, the public, to start asking questions. Please keep it up!

I doubt the town board will do anything as this is shapping up to be a interesting election year. Delving into the police dapartment is the last thing its members wish to do. Who knows what ...more
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Mar 21, 13 2:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
New article on Sickles situation.

Welcome to Oz.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 21, 13 2:18 PM
If people out here were intelligent enough to vote honest, capable people into office in the first place, these things would not happen. Blame yourselves locals!
By Jess9090 (4), southampton on Mar 23, 13 6:44 PM
I agree with you Jess, people need to do there homework
By Erin 27 E (1278), southampton on Mar 24, 13 2:41 PM
Can anyone confirm new rumor just heard in a local deli in the village , retired chief Wilson considering a run at town government . Hope this is true , he will have my support , chief , need any help getting signatures ? Anyone else hear this or have his contact info ?
By BCHBUM11968 (81), SOUTHAMPTON on Mar 24, 13 12:05 PM
An intriguing possibility. Are you sure they weren't serving baloney at the deli? Wurst things have happened.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 24, 13 1:25 PM
2 members liked this comment
A harsh shadow has been cast over the entire Southampton Town Police Department. Our elected officials seem to be in left field when they keep making decisions which make little or no sense. Hiding behind the guise of personnel issues when asked only serves to instill further distrust among the residents.
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Mar 24, 13 9:21 PM
The town board is having public hearings on septic systems but there is only deafening silence about police corruption.

SOS - Save Our Southampton!
By OU812 (161), East Quogue on Mar 27, 13 8:09 PM