Cadet Charged After Drugs Disappear from Evidence Room: Baltimore County Police

The cadet had $40,000 in cash at the time of his arrest, police said.

Nicholas Ishmael (Credit: Baltimore County Police Department)
Nicholas Ishmael (Credit: Baltimore County Police Department)
Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson announced at a press conference Wednesday that a cadet has been charged after thousands of dollars' worth of drugs went missing from the police department's evidence room.

Nicholas Michael Ishmael, 20, of the 7900 block of Westmoreland Avenue in Parkville, was arrested Tuesday at police headquarters, according to a statement from the Baltimore County Police Department.

When Ishmael was taken into custody, he had $40,000 in cash in his possession, which he had stolen that day, according to the report from police.

Detectives found Ishmael had also taken tens of thousands of dollars' worth of cocaine, morphine, Oxycodone and Alprazolam from the evidence room, police said.

Ishmael was charged with 10 offenses, online court records show, and police said more may be filed:
  • Theft between $10,000 to under $100,000
  • Conspiracy to commit theft between $10,000 to under $100,000
  • Five counts of drug possession (not marijuana)
  • Three counts of possession with intent to distribute narcotics

Ishmael was scheduled to be terminated Wednesday, according to police.

“This is a serious internal issue," Johnson said. "To say that I am deeply troubled by this serious breach is an understatement."

The investigation leading to the charges began in April, after a homicide detective tried to retrieve drug evidence for a court case and the drugs were missing, police said. 

Johnson ordered a comprehensive internal investigation and audit of the evidence room, according to the report from police.

The department's evidence room, where Ishmael was assigned, is like a warehouse for thousands of pieces of evidence, from guns to money, police said.

A lieutenant, sergeant, corporal, three officers and three cadets staff the evidence room, according to police, who said it is not believed any other officers were involved in the breach.

There is an electronic bar code system for tracking items in the evidence room—a tool police said was key in linking Ishmael to the crimes—according to the report.

Once the internal investigation pointed to Ishmael as the culprit, officials spent weeks on the case, according to the report.

The items that Ishmael allegedly stole were associated with 15 narcotics cases, including one homicide case—that of Towson man Alsawab Sawab—according to the report.

As a result of the surveillance involved in the investigation, two of Ishmael’s cousins face drug charges as well, police said.

Officials continue to audit the cases in the evidence room and still have 19,000 to review, while approximately 8,000 cases have been audited in the last 24 hours, according to police.

While the investigation did not show any procedural or technological failures in the evidence room, Johnson said the evidence room procedures will be reviewed in the aftermath of the case.

"Our citizens depend on this agency to solve crimes and make sure that criminals are successfully prosecuted," Johnson said, "and I want them to know that we have devoted and will continue to devote all possible resources to investigating this situation."

Linda Hoffecker June 26, 2014 at 11:38 PM
I don't understand why a cadet is permitted to be a staff member in that room.. Maybe if there were always two members minimum, physically in there, it may help reduce internal thefts.
Steven Spiegel June 28, 2014 at 08:02 PM
I was thinking the same thing if 2 possibly And possibly a supervisor picked at random each week to go behind the 2 and check the accuracy of there reports . And no cadets or anyone without 10 years on the force should be trusted around all that evidence . That way they can go by there track record and decide weather or not they are trust worthy enough to look after something so important . I mean what the hell if they were letting new hires in there why not just hire a temp service to look after it


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