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Port St. Lucie police evidence technicians arrested, accused of improperly disposing of guns, ammo, razors

Posted: 4:34 PM, Jun 13, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-14 21:24:50Z
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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Three evidence technicians with the Port St. Lucie Police Department are under arrest, accused of improperly disposing of evidence like weapons and razors.

"I'm deeply disturbed," said Chief John Bolduc at a news conference Friday morning. "This does violate the public trust in this organization."

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According to a police investigation, 43-year-old Thomas LaBelle, Jr., 55-year-old Vernal Taylor, and 58-year-old Jeffrey Hunter either took the evidence for their own personal use, or tried to sell it.

The evidence included pellet guns, magazines for firearms, razors, tools, sporting equipment, electric toothbrushes, and other household items.

Police said all of the items were from closed cases, and the evidence should've either been destroyed or returned to its owners.

Chief Bolduc said Friday that surveillance video showed the technicians taking the evidence to a disposal area, then returning later to get it back. Chief Bolduc said another employee reported the crimes.

"The items were taken out of the building to the area where they would be thrown away, then they were retrieved later," said Chief Bolduc.

The chief said his agency is now working to track down the owners of the evidence to return the items to them.

"This incident has caused us to reevaluate," said Chief Bolduc. "Even though what we have is adequate, we're going to beef it up so there's no way this can happen again."

LaBelle and Taylor are facing charges of grand theft and organized scheme to defraud, while Hunter is facing charges of grand theft.

They were booked into the St. Lucie County Jail on Thursday, and are on unpaid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation.