LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) --
A former area police officer charged with possession of narcotics was in court Wednesday.
Forty-four-year-old Brian Thomson of Holmen worked for the La Crosse Police Department.
A criminal complaint said that in August Thomson took fake pills out a duffle bag, which he admitted to doing in an interview.
The criminal complaint also said Thomson admitted to removing drug evidence at least three times prior.
La Crosse Police said they conducted an audit of their evidence room, to determine whether any evidence was tampered with.
District Attorney Tim Gruenke said dozens of cases have been affected and will probably be affected.
“It’s frustrating, and it’s a cumbersome process, and it’s going to take us some time to figure out what it means, and what impact it will have, but it’s certainly something that takes a lot of time for the department to go through, and it’s going to be a hassle for the courts to sort out what it means in each individual case,” said Gruenke.
“There have been some open questions about what might or might not have happened and Mr. Thomson is doing everything he can to take away any questions that still remain by giving them all the information that he possible can,” said defense attorney Keith Belzer.
Thomson’s attorney said he hopes to have the case finished within 30 days.
The case is being handled by the Attorney General’s Office, and will be assigned to a judge outside of La Crosse County.
If convicted Thomson could face up to three and a half years in prison.
LA CROSSE, Wis. (LA CROSSE POLICE DEPARTMENT NEWS RELEASE) -- On August 13, 2013 the La Crosse Police Department, with assistance from the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, conducted an investigation in to the suspected illegal activity of former Lieutenant Brian Thomson. The La Crosse Police Department placed fictitious controlled substances under observation and it was revealed that former Lt. Thomson removed these items. Subsequently, Brian Thomson was arrested on the charges of attempted possession of a controlled substance and misconduct in office.
The La Crosse Police Department has since conducted a thorough audit of our evidence area and has identified a number of evidentiary items that we believe have been manipulated after the original packaging of the evidence. From our Investigation it appears that there were dozens of cases possibly affected and we continue the process of reviewing the cases and evidence. Due to this discovery, we have updated prosecutors regarding evidentiary drug items that we feel have been tampered with.
The La Crosse Police Department has reviewed its evidence handling processes and its security procedures to ensure that all measures are taken to prevent this type of activity from occurring in the future. The department has taken immediate steps in our evidence area to prevent this from occurring in the future.
Today’s charges of Brian Thomson indicate the seriousness of this incident. The La Crosse Police Department is dedicated to ensure the highest level of accountability.
Chief Tischer stated, “The La Crosse Police Department is grateful of the work that the District Attorney’s Office, Department of Criminal Investigation and the State Attorney General’s Office has performed over the course of this investigation. We are continuing to work side by side with these agencies to resolve this matter and take the necessary steps to guarantee an incident like this does not happen again.”
The La Crosse Police Department will continue to work closely with the La Crosse County District Attorney’s Office to ensure that any case involving possible tampered evidence is handled in the most appropriate manner and that those responsible for illegal drug activity in our community are held equally accountable.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The state Justice Department has charged a former La Crosse Police lieutenant with trying to steal pain pills.
The agency filed one felony count of attempted possession of narcotics against Brian Thomson on Wednesday.
According to the criminal complaint, the department grew suspicious of Thomson after he started helping clerks log evidence and asking co-workers for pain medication.
Assistant Police Chief Rob Abraham asked Thomson in August to log a duffel bag that held a bottle of fake Oxycontin pills. Abraham later discovered the pills were missing from the bag. Thomson told a DOJ agent that he ingested the pills. He also said he took methamphetamine evidence and ingested it at least three times.
Thomson resigned after he was arrested in August. Online court records didn't list a defense attorney.
LA CROSSE, Wis. (OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY NEWS RELEASE) --After the arrest and prosecution of Brian Thomson, the City of La Crosse Police Department conducted an audit of their evidence room to determine whether or not any evidence was compromised based on the actions of Brian Thomson.
As a result of that process of reviewing hundreds of items of evidence, a smaller number of items were identified as requiring further analysis to determine what, if anything, was compromised. Given the differing types of evidence and different possibilities, it remains difficult to put a final number on the items that were processed, and the process of reviewing items is ongoing. In some cases it was determined there was absolutely no impact on a pending criminal case; in some situations further crime lab testing is being conducted; and in others it is yet unknown what impact this information will have in any pending criminal case.
Because of these various possibilities it is difficult to have a final number that is an accurate and exact number of items that have been compromised. But, it is safe to say that dozens of items are being looked at and that some number of those criminal cases will have at least some negative impact. Whether that means the re-opening of closed cases, lowering of the severity of charges that are pending, or complete dismissal of criminal cases is unknown at this time and will probably take months to determine the full impact of this situation.
The City of La Crosse Police Department and District Attorney's Office are continuing to investigate any possibility of evidence being tampered with or missing, and as conclusions are made that information is provided to the defendant and/or their attorney.
Although it is a frustrating and cumbersome process, we will strive to discover any issues with the evidence and then make decisions on how to handle the issues in the cases as they come up. We have to take into account all of the factors in the case to reach a fair and just outcome, at the same time balancing the need for justice for the community with the rights of the individual defendants in each and every case.