Lancaster Attorney Frustrated about Evidence Compromise Leading to 66 Dropped Drug Charges: 'The Chain has been Broken'
By Aaron Bonderson , Report for America Reporter/Producer Nebraska Public Media
8. November 2021 06:00 ·
Listen To This Story
There have been 66 drug-related cases dropped in Lancaster County because more than $1 million worth of drugs were stolen from the state patrol evidence room in Lincoln.
Anna Idigima and her boyfriend George Weaver Jr. allegedly stole and distributed drugs from a Nebraska State Patrol evidence room where Idigima was employed. Some of the drugs reportedly caused the death of nine people. A federal grand jury indicted the pair for selling schedule two controlled substances. They appeared before a federal judge pleading not guilty.
The repercussions from the million dollars worth of missing evidence collected during drug investigations continues to roll through the court system. According to Lancaster County Attorney Pat Condon, the security lapse at the State Patrol has impacted 116 cases. Charges have been withdrawn for 66 of the people charged with drug crimes, while 43 cases remain open or under review. There were seven cases identified by the state patrol that never made it to Condon’s office. He said the situation has been difficult.
“The chain has been broken for our chain of custody, and therefore that evidence wouldn’t come in,” Condon said. “I don’t have evidence that I can present to a court or to a jury to gain a conviction, so I mean, it’s frustrating in the sense that I wished it wouldn’t have happened. I wish, you know, we would have cases that we could proceed on because individuals had been alleged to have violated the law.”
Condon offered few specifics about the dropped cases. State law requires all information about dropped cases be scrubbed from public records to protect the privacy of those no longer accused of a crime. While none were yet found guilty, the prosecutor said he’s worried some of those no longer facing charges may pose a risk to community health and safety.
“We’re always concerned when people are released, when they get back out that they don’t fall back into the same habits that they had before, so that’s always a concern,” Condon said, “but sometimes a good scare works, and hopefully that’ll keep them from doing what they were doing.”
Condon said he feels secure about the state patrol’s current evidence handling and storage process in the aftermath of the security breach.
Thirteen other southeast Nebraska counties may also have cases impacted by the evidence room tampering in Lincoln. Those counties include Butler, Fillmore, Jefferson, Johnson, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee, Richardson, Saline, Saunders, Seward, and Thayer. There is no word yet about how many drug cases may be dropped in those jurisdictions.
Get the latest from around Nebraska delivered to your inbox