Former Evidence Custodian Sentenced to Prison for Embezzling $109,623 from North Slope Borough Police Department
Fairbanks, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced that a Fairbanks woman was sentenced in federal court today for one count of interstate transportation of stolen property between 2011 and July 2012 related to her theft of over $100,000 from the evidence room at the North Slope Borough Police Department (NSBPD) in Barrow, Alaska.
Margaret Ann Solomon, 48, of Fairbanks, Alaska, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Beistline to eight months in prison, three years supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution of $109,623 to the NSBPD.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Hattan, who prosecuted the case, court documents show that Solomon worked for the NSBPD from November 2006 until July 16, 2012. Between approximately January 2011 and June 2012, Solomon was one of three Evidence Custodians assigned to work in the evidence room in Barrow. As a result, Solomon was responsible for and had control over the evidence room approximately every three weeks. As an evidence custodian, Solomon knew which evidence items contained cash and, during the weeks that she was assigned to work in the evidence room, Solomon stole cash from evidence items. Solomon did so by retrieving evidence envelopes when she was by herself in the evidence room and removing money from them. Solomon also took steps to conceal her thefts by, at times destroying envelopes and files.
During the time Solomon stole money from the evidence room, she deposited some of the money she stole into her account at Wells Fargo in Barrow to gamble online. For example, Solomon linked her Wells Fargo account to her Paypal account, and then used Paypal to electronically transfer the stolen funds from her Wells Fargo account to Facebook.
A 2014 audit of the evidence room conducted at the direction of the North Slope Borough determined that a minimum of $207,563.96 was missing from the evidence room at that time, and that 82 individual evidence items were missing money or were unaccounted for altogether. The audit, however, could not discern when the unaccounted for evidence items went missing or were removed from the evidence room. Furthermore, the precise amount of money that Solomon took from the evidence room is unknown. This is so for at least two reasons. First, Solomon did not keep track of either the amount of cash that she stole, or the evidence items from which she thieved. Second, NSBPD had poor controls for tracking evidence. For example, during business hours, the evidence room was often left open and unattended. The court concluded that the loss amount attributable to Solomon was $109,623 based on bank records showing that amount of unaccounted for cash deposits into Solomon’s bank account during her tenure with the NSBPD.
In sentencing Solomon, Judge Beistline emphasized the need to deter others from committing public corruption offenses, promote respect for the law, and to impose just punishment, noting that the sentence needed to carry consequences beyond Solomon simply “paying back the money.” Judge Beistline also noted that Solomon’s abuse of her position of public trust had spanned 18 months and had “hurt the police department, hurt the community, and potentially hurt victims.”
U.S. Attorney Loeffler commended the actions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She noted that “corruption within the criminal justice system will not be tolerated at any level.” This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Hattan.