Thursday, September 22, 2016

THE CROOKED COPS: guns, drugs, and cash vanished from the evidence room, forcing Braintree Police chief to "retire" amid the massive scandal

Gary Higgins/The Patriot Ledger
Braintree Police Chief Russell Jenkins.

Braintree Police chief retires amid evidence room scandal

Braintree Police Chief Russell Jenkins will retire Oct. 7 as head of the troubled department, which has been rocked by revelations that guns, drugs, and cash vanished from the evidence room, according to an announcement from the town. 

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as Chief of the Braintree Police Department these last four years,” Jenkins wrote in a letter to the mayor. 

The department has come under fire after an audit revealed that more than $400,000 in cash, between 60 and 70 guns, and thousands of drug samples had gone missing from the evidence room. 

After the auditor spoke to the evidence room officer for the first time in May, the officer, Susan Zopatti, killed herself. The audit was released publicly last week. The department has recovered most of the guns and about $140,000 of the cash. 

Mayor Joseph C. Sullivan said he had accepted Jenkins’ retirement.

“I appreciate and commend his nearly 34 years in the Braintree police department and the community of Braintree,” Sullivan said. “I wish him and his family well.”

Jenkins was not available for further comment Thursday morning. A spokesman for Sullivan said the mayor would not comment further. The Town Council president and vice-president were not immediately available for comment, and councilor-at-large Shannon Hume declined to comment. 

When the auditor examined the evidence in the evidence room, he found bags of drugs torn open, and bags of cash ripped at the bottom, with cash missing. Two guns were recovered from Zopatti’s home.

The revelations about the missing evidence have jeopardized hundreds of cases, according to the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office. More than 20 have already been dropped.