Buncombe County District Attorney Ron Moore, pictured last year with a portion of the unreleased Asheville Police Department's evidence-room audit. Image courtesy of WSPA.

Moore: ‘As I’ve said all along, I will release the report’

In the wake of the hiring of a new Asheville Police Department evidence-room manager and the still-lingering questions about missing drugs, guns and money from the department’s former evidence room, Buncombe County District Attorney Ron Moore said Monday that “I’m hopeful we’re moving forward shortly” to conclude the investigation into what happened.

“That’s about all I can say,” Moore added in a phone conversation to Carolina Public Press.

Moore, along with the State Bureau of Investigation, has been investigating the theft of the missing evidence since early 2011, when it was discovered that items were missing.

Asheville Police Chief William Anderson said earlier Monday that he’d been briefed enough on the investigation to know the gist of what’s been discovered.

“We know what happened in our evidence room,” Anderson said. “Not only do we know what happened, we know how it happened, and we know who was responsible.”

He declined to say more about the investigation, including when it might be concluded.

Anderson said that he has not, however, seen the recommendations included in an extensive audit done by a firm Asheville City Council hired to find out how many items are missing. The audit was the subject of a public-records lawsuit filed by Carolina Public Press and four other local media organizations last year. It was unsuccessful, and the audit remains unreleased.

Anderson, on Monday, referred questions about those recommendations to Moore, who has the sole known copy of the audit outside of the auditing agency and who has refused to release it to the public.

Moore also asserted Monday that the substance of the recommendations was revealed last July, in a presentation to City Council by Mike Wright, head of the firm that conducted the audit.

“Mike Wright went over to City Council and spoke, and told them some of the things they need to look at, so it seems to me it’s already out there,” Moore said. He said that he’d also personally discussed some of the recommendations with Anderson.

“As I’ve said all along, I will release the report,” Moore said in reference to the audit. “I’ve just got an investigation going on.”

Moore has insisted throughout the probe that that the audit is part of a criminal investigation and not a public record.

Asked whether he’d release the audit if and when charges are filed or after a conviction, Moore said, “Probably a conviction.”

Special Investigation

For more of Carolina Public Press’ ongoing special investigation into the Asheville Police Department, go here.

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Jon Elliston is the lead contributing open government reporter at Carolina Public Press. Contact him at jelliston@carolinapublicpress.org.

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