A report from the State Auditor's office released today tabulates the value of goods allegedly embezzled by former Sheriff Greg Solano at $73,364.
The report also reveals ongoing issues in the Santa Fe Sheriff's Department evidence room, including "clutter and disorganization," inadequate security measures and an evidence backlog. The report alleges that in addition to Solano, another SFSD staff member identified only as being at the rank of sergeant was "periodically overriding controls by walking in and out of the evidence locker room area without signing in and out."
Current Sheriff Robert Garcia tells SFR that the department has only one evidence custodian, and she's "trying to catch up." But he takes issue with the allegations that evidence is in disarray or missing, particularly evidence from an unidentified homicide investigation that the report alludes to. He says the auditor might not have understood the bar code evidence identification system in place.
"I have to go in on Monday to see if that was the case, to see what evidence the auditor is claiming to be missing," Garcia says. "Until I'm able to do that, I'm sticking to my same thing, that my evidence is not compromised."
Garcia says it would help if the state auditor identified which homicide investigation is currently short a piece of evidence.
The identity of the sergeant who allegedly overrode controls is also a mystery, Garcia says.
"If it was happening it's unacceptable and will never happen again," Garcia says.
Evan Blackstone, spokesman for the State Auditor's office, didn't immediately return a call for comment.
Solano currently faces over 100 pending felony embezzlement charges.