A former New Bern Police officer will be spending some time in jail after pleading guilty to stealing drug related evidence.
An SBI investigation revealed former officer Frances Sutton had taken narcotics from defendants she arrested or the department's evidence room four times between 2010 and 2012.
As a result of Sutton's criminal conduct, her remaining cases that were still open from her time in the narcotics investigations unit had to be dismissed. District Attorney Scott Thomas says that in all, nine cases involving six different defendants were dismissed, including charges against drug dealers for trafficking in controlled substances.
Thomas' office says that a review of video surveillance of the evidence facility and evidence checkout procedures confirmed Sutton’s theft. Officials say Sutton took the pills for her personal use.
Sutton will serve between 1 and 2 years in prison. Sutton was required by the plea to surrender any and all law enforcement certifications, so she cannot hold the position of police officer again.
District Attorney Scott Thomas added his thoughts: “It’s very disturbing when you discover a law enforcement officer breaking the laws he or she is sworn to uphold and enforce. Officers hold a special position of trust. They are not only expected to obey the law, they are also expected to set a good example. Former Officer Sutton failed on both points. Due to her criminal conduct, we had to dismiss several pending drug cases in which she was involved. This allowed those drug dealers to avoid justice for their criminal conduct in those cases. An active prison sentence for Sutton was certainly appropriate based on the facts. This prison sentence demonstrates that officers are not above the laws they are sworn to enforce.”