By Bill Kelly , Senior Producer/Reporter and Aaron Bonderson , News Student Worker Nebraska Public Media
Sept. 24, 2021, midnight ·
The Lincoln Police Department says an audit has revealed more than one million dollars worth of illegal drugs is missing from the Nebraska State Patrol's evidence room. The results of the audit released Friday afternoon followed a Friday morning news conference announcing the arrest of a Nebraska State Patrol employee and her boyfriend in connection with fentanyl-laced cocaine that's been connected to a number of overdoses and deaths in the Lincoln area. Some of the tainted drugs are believed to be among those stolen from the State Patrol's evidence room.
There were nine deaths from cocaine-laced fentanyl overdoses in the Lincoln area from late July to late August. One survivor was a pregnant woman whose unborn baby died.
Anna Idigima worked as an evidence technician for the Nebraska State Patrol when she allegedly stole drugs from the evidence room she worked in. She and her boyfriend George Weaver Jr., who owns a restaurant in Lincoln, are being charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and fentanyl, with the possibility of other charges being added later.
Colonel John Bolduc with the Nebraska State Patrol says a random audit of the facility discovered missing evidence.
"In this case, those audits were completed as scheduled," Bolduc said. "We believe all of this activity occurred during a brief window of time following the completion of one of those audits."
Later in the day following the news conference, the Lincoln Police Department released details of the audit of the patrol's facility in Lincoln. While the news conference emphasized the missing cocaine and fentanyl taken during the time of Idigima's employment, there was much more removed from the facility that may have ended up on the streets.
In addition to cocaine and fentanyl, 154 pounds of marijuana could not be accounted for, with a street value of almost $300,000, along with 32 pounds of THC concentrate. Nine pounds of heroin and three pounds of methamphetamine are also missing.
There were dozens of pills, both prescription pain killers and the street drug ecstasy removed from the evidence room. In all, the total estimated value of the drugs potentially stolen was $1,237,130.
If any of the missing drugs previously seized in narcotics investigations involve cases still awaiting trial, those charges could be in jeopardy of dismissal.
Idigima and Weaver face a potential penalty of 20 years to life in prison in connection with their current charges.
Idigima worked for the Nebraska State Patrol for 14 years before being suspended in late August, then terminated by the department.
Bolduc says the Nebraska State Patrol believes their other evidence facilities, such as their crime lab, are in good shape.
"We have already begun a thorough review of our evidence storage policy and procedures," Bolduc said. "Our current procedures have followed the guidance and accreditation process set forth by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, or CALEA."
The most recent accreditation of the Nebraska State Patrol was done on December 4, 2020. CALEA conducts its audits into NSP every three to four years.
Bolduc says the patrol will continue to look for ways to improve what it thought was a secure system, but was exploited.
"With the actions of someone who is dishonest, that can be exploited. We're going to look at within our system how do we address that human element so that this kind of egregious betrayal of public trust does not happen again," Bolduc said.
Lincoln Lancaster County Attorney Pat Condon will review approximately 105 cases, dating back to 2010, involving the Nebraska State Patrol.
The Lincoln Police Department says overdose incidents involving cocaine laced with fentanyl have subsided.
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