Details emerge about corruption allegations in West Valley City

- WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC 4 News) – The bombshells keep falling in West Valley City, as allegations of missing money, drugs and the mishandling of evidence surfaced Friday as part of an internal investigation into the police department’s former Neighborhood Narcotics Unit.

With eyes on the police department by the F.B.I. and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, city officials finally explained the corruption allegations in unit, which was disbanded in December 2012.

Although police would not mention any detectives by name, others have named Detective Shaun Cowley as one of the officers the West Valley City’s Police Department have been suspicious of.

After a five month internal investigation, city officials found six areas of concern.

City Manager Wayne Pyle said the investigation was sparked by concerns over the shooting death of Danielle Willard.

Pyle said a handful of detectives possibly mishandled evidence and booked it without proper documentation, breaking the Chain of Custody. He said the mishandling of evidence was common practice.

The other areas of concern was over missing drugs and money that had been taken from drug busts, detectives also possibly used GPS trackers without a warrant, and they’re accused of keeping personal items from known drug traffickers as souvenirs. The internal audit also found possible problems with confidential informants not following policy, including informants that may have been undocumented immigrants.

Salt Lake District Attorney Sim Gill said the findings are devastating and concerning.

“To me these are not minor issues,” Gill said. “I don’t think they’re minor issues to anybody who understands the justice system.”

Gill has already thrown out 19 drug cases because he couldn’t trust the evidence and he expects to toss out at least a hundred more.

“It would be unethical and unlawful for me to allow a case to go forward that I know cannot be successfully prosecuted,” he said.

Gill said the domino effect of this investigation betrays the public trust and their expectations of due process.

“The real tragedy here is the measure of justice for many victims in the community that are no longer going to be able to have because of the potential conduct of one or several officers,” he added.

Pyle said the possibly wrongdoings go back as far as two years.

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