Wednesday, February 12, 2003

2 picked to head search

Property office missing money

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer



HAMILTON - Butler County Prosecutor Robin Piper has named two special prosecutors to investigate the county sheriff's property room, a probe that Sheriff Harold Don Gabbard requested last week after a preliminary audit showed some guns and money might be missing.

Piper on Tuesday appointed William E. Breyer, a retired Hamilton County assistant prosecutor, and his brother, Daniel J. Breyer, a Clermont County assistant prosecutor.

Piper said he and the Breyers met on the prosecution team for the 1993 riots at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. Nine inmates and a guard were killed during the 11-day siege at the prison in Lucasville.

He thinks the Breyers are ideal for the property-room investigation because each has more than 25 years' experience as an assistant prosecutor, Piper said, including many research-intensive cases. "I think the situation we have is somewhat complex," Piper said, "and it is going to require time to weigh through and sift through all the information to determine what's taken place and what needs to be done."

Gabbard, who said he is not acquainted with the Breyers, said, "I just hope they have the expertise to come in here and help us clear the situation up, so we can move on with business."

Concerns about the property room have been brewing since December 2001, when a court ordered some seized drug money transferred to county coffers - but the money couldn't be found.

Internal investigators who work for the sheriff conducted a partial audit that showed seven guns and $4,681 in cash unaccounted for. The items might only appear to be missing because of record-keeping discrepancies, investigators said, noting that two ex-employees - who admitted to misdemeanor criminal charges - had improperly deleted computerized records of about 2,000 items. The property room, now being transferred from the old county jail to the Resolutions minimum-security jail, holds more than 10,000 items, from unclaimed bicycles to evidence needed in criminal cases.

Piper said he didn't know when the Breyers would begin their work or how long it would take.

"Obviously, I would like for them to begin as soon as possible and for them to end as soon as possible, but I would also like for them to take as much time as they need," he said.

They will be paid from the county general fund at $100 per hour.


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