A former Beckley evidence technician is sentenced in federal court Monday. 59 News told viewers back in August there was an investigation into missing evidence from the Beckley police department's evidence locker. Gabriella Brown pleaded guilty to admitting to taking prescription pills from the locker late last year..
Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristin Keller spoke about this incident back in August and said this incident is going to have a huge impact on drug related cases. She said at the time that all cases involving narcotics for the past several months were likely to be dismissed.
Pervious reports include that up to 200 pills were unaccounted for.
Eight months after this shocking investigation into the Beckley Police Department evidence locker, Brown is finally sentenced. Gabriella Brown, the former Beckley Police Department evidence technician pleaded guilty to taking prescription pills from the evidence locker.
In the opening statements the defense stated that the specific amount of pills that could be traced back to Brown could not be determined because "Beckley Police Department utilized poor policies and procedures." "No exact number of pills can be attributed to Miss Brown," the defense stated.
According the United States Attorney's Office that charge carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison, but Brown got off a lot easier in court on Monday.
In an interesting twist the Honorable Judge John Hutchison, a Raleigh County Circuit Court Judge and Brown's father, took the stand. He spoke about his daughter's dark decent into addiction.
A visibly nervous Hutchison stated that his daughter got her first taste of oxy when she was prescribed the medications after gallbladder surgery. He stated in 2010, that Gabriella began struggling with major depression and noticed right around June 2012 things with his daughter were not right.
It was in August 2012; just months after her parents said they knew something was not right; Brown was busted by Beckley Police for taking pills from the evidence locker.
Hutchison said the family immediately took Brown into treatment. Hutchison said his daughter has been clear ever since than and has been motivated to stay clean because of her two young her children.
"She is scared to death that she is going to loose contact with her children," Hutchison said. "She wants her kids back; she wants to raise her kids." "She is no way minimizes this… She is absolutely mortified for what she has done," Hutchison continued.
Gabriella admitted under oath to being clean for 8 months. Fighting back tears, she made an apology.
"I want to apologize to my employers at the Beckley police department, the entire judicial system, coworkers and most of all my family," Brown said. "I can honestly say I have never been at a lower point in my life… I don't think I will ever stop regretting it," Brown continued.
59News wanted to give the opportunity for Gabriella Brown to apologize on camera, since cameras are not allowed in federal court. 59News crews saw her family's vehicle pull up to a side door on the federal courthouse, but the family pulled the old bait and switch and Brown exited out of another side door into a different vehicle.
Brown was sentenced to 4 years of probation but that felony charge will stay with her for the rest of her life.
In court Judge Faber said, the sentence is "somewhat light" in terms of what Brown has done. But Judge Faber said he believes she is "well on her way to rehabilitation" and believed "incarceration would interfere with that."
He said, Brown "has been justly punished through the embarrassment [she] has done to [herself]." "I've gone out of a limb with you Miss Brown,' Judge Faber continued. "I don't expect to see you back here, but if I do, this will be a big problem with me as well as you."
Former evidence custodian for the Beckley Police Department, Gabriella Brown, was sentenced to four years of probation in front of Judge Faber on Monday, April 29.
Raleigh County Circuit Court Judge John Hutchinson took the stand to testify on Browns behalf. Hutchinson is Brown's father. During the hearing Brown apologized to the Beckley Police Department and the Raleigh County Justice system. Watch for more details concerning the sentencing on 59News at 5 and 6.
Court sketches provided by 59News sketch artist Patrick Williams.
An investigation into missing evidence from the Beckley Police Department's evidence locker results ends with a sentencing on Monday, April 29.
Gabriella Brown, who was in charge of the evidence locker during an audit in 2012, will be sentenced in a federal courtroom in Bluefield, W.Va. Brown went on medical leave suddenly on August 2012 and an investigation into missing evidence was conducted. During the audit, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin stated that a number of morphine pills that were logged and stored in the evidence locker came up missing. Brown admitted to taking 22 of those pills. Goodwin also said the Brown also admitted to having an addiction and stealing pills from the evidence locker on several occasions.
Sentencing for the crimes happens in Federal Court at 11 a.m. on Monday in front of Judge Faber. Brown could get up to four years in prison and a $250,000 fine.