by Sarah Squires
$50K unaccounted for
The last meeting of the Lewiston City Council in 2008 was marked by questions from current Mayor Richard Ahrens about missing money and drugs from the city’s police evidence locker, and nearly $50,000 of fire department funds that are unaccounted for.
“I don’t have any answers,” said Ahrens Friday. “I just have questions.”
City Administrator Clerk Barb Hampel said that the unaccounted for fire department money was likely mistakenly put into the city’s general fund, but that it was corrected after auditors discovered the mistake. “The fire department has a separate gambling account and they were given so much money to put toward a building fund,” she said. “What we think happened was that when the money came to the city it was never properly earmarked and just put into the general fund. So during the last audit it was earmarked and put into a building fund. It’s been taken care of.”
Hampel said it wasn’t known where the original money went. “They don’t know where it went to,” she said, “so we just fixed it.”
Questions about missing drugs and money from an evidence locker first came up after a letter from County Attorney Chuck MacLean, said current Police Chief David Kleinschmidt.
Because the incident is still under investigation, and a separate agency may take that investigation over, Kleinschmidt said that it is difficult to comment on the missing items. “It wasn’t so much the drugs,” he said, “it was approximately $2,000 [missing].”
Kleinschmidt said that MacLean’s letter came as Dan Walker was hired as interim police chief in late January 2008. MacLean was concerned about the “chain of command” over the evidence locker. That’s when an internal inventory found the items missing, said Kleinschmidt.
Walker and Kleinschmidt then initiated a new process for logging and tracking evidence, as well as tracking who is handling the items and why. “It’s a very critical thing to have evidence logged to determine what goes in, what goes out and why [a person] is in the evidence locker,” said Kleinschmidt.
Kleinschmidt took over as interim chief in September, and said the new logging system is going well.