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."