Former Elizabeth Borough chief charged with stealing drug evidence
Former Elizabeth Borough police Chief Timothy Butler, who resigned Tuesday night, is accused of stealing drugs from the department’s evidence room.
Thousands of empty bags of heroin evidence were found throughout Butler’s office, authorities said. He’d been with the department for nearly two decades, and he was appointed chief in 2014.
Butler, 42, of Finleyville, turned himself in to authorities Thursday morning. He was arraigned and released on non-monetary bond. A bond hearing is scheduled for Friday.
He is charged with two counts of theft by unlawful taking, two counts of theft by failure to make required deposits, two counts of drug possession and one count of obstruction of justice.
Butler’s officers noticed “suspicious behavior” Dec. 6 when he was seen interacting with a man found in possession of suspected heroin, according a criminal complaint. Questioned by officers, the man told them he was making controlled drug buys for Butler.
Sgt. Garrett Kimmell said it was unlikely he would be unaware of such an investigation.
The next day, Kimmell confronted Butler about his behavior, according to the complaint. He first denied having any problems but then allegedly told his sergeant he was addicted to heroin.
“Butler explained he became addicted after taking prescribed Vicodin for neck and back pain and blamed the doctors,” District Attorney’s Detective Lyle Graber wrote in the complaint.
Kimmell asked Butler if there was any missing evidence.
“It was a mess,” he replied, according to the complaint.
Kimmell asked how bad it was.
“Butler stated that ‘it was all gone,’ that any heroin in evidence was all gone,” according to the complaint.
Kimmell alerted borough officials, and Butler turned in his badge, gun and evidence key and was placed on leave and driven home, investigators said.
Graber wrote that Butler wept in a Dec. 10 meeting with the borough solicitor and other officials, apologizing and saying “he could not believe this was happening to him,” according to the complaint.
“Butler also blamed the doctor, relating ‘once they got me off the pills, I had no choice,’” Graber wrote.
Kimmell and Clairton police officers searched Butler’s office. In his trash can were approximately 2,700 loose stamp bags and 62 bundles, which each contain 10 bags, according to the complaint. They were empty.
In and around Butler’s desk, investigators found 535 loose stamp bags – all empty. An evidence envelope labeled as containing “approx. 2531 bags of heroin” was found empty, according to the complaint.
More evidence was missing from the evidence room.
One evidence envelope supposed to contain 1,000 stamp bags actually held 900 empty bags. Another empty envelope was supposed to contain 146 bags and had 134 empty bags inside. Another envelope held 554 empty stamp bags instead of the 627 full bags it was supposed to contain.
Butler, according to the complaint, was also in charge of collecting and depositing parking meter money. In previous years, the total had been between $4,000 and $6,000. No deposit was made in 2017.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.