Polygraph tests being given in drug money case

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 3, 2002

The City of Demopolis is conducting its own investigation into a portion of seized drug money that was found missing between May 11 and 13.

Polygraph tests were given last week to specific city employees, said Demopolis Public Safety Director Jeff Manuel. The tests were given to employees in more than one department.

There may be a need for further tests, he said.

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A retired FBI agent from Mobile is administering the polygraph tests.

One phase of the investigation is internal, he said. Manuel is hopeful an outside investigative agency can aid in the overall investigation.

The Alabama Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been mentioned as outside agencies that were contacted to investigate the case. Manuel said June 24 that he had heard no response that the ABI was not taking the case.

The FBI was contacted, he said, and no official response has been received by the city that the federal agency would not be involved.

Manuel said he was made aware "by conversation (with FBI agents) I kind-of felt like they might not handle it."

Manuel said the State Attorney General’s office was also contacted, and he has yet to receive a response.

He couldn’t comment on whether the seized money was placed in a safe at the police department. He refrained from saying who counted the drug money originally nor who brought the money to City Hall from the Police Department.

A video showing police officers seizing the money is in Manuel’s possession, he continued.

The Demopolis City Council has been given some information concerning the ongoing investigation, Manuel said. "They’re not getting all the details as to what’s going on," he said.

Manuel saw no conflict with him (a city employee) leading the investigation. "I’m just going to call it like I see it," he replied.

Was there a concern that a lot of time has passed before the internal investigation began?

What will aid the investigation, Manuel said, is that he knows all the principals involved. There is no unknown subject in the investigation. "We know who all the players are," he added.

All city employees questioned in the investigation had fully cooperated, Manuel said.

He would not say how long the investigation will take.

Will any rules and regulations change in city government because of what he has already discovered? "I hope so, Manuel said. There were already some problems discovered throughout the investigation that needed to be corrected, he said.

Have any officers expressed doubt over the original count of the seized money? "If you didn’t have some policy violations, I think the miscount would have been caught sooner.

All I can do is lay it all out to them (the mayor and city council) and give them what my recommendations are," he said.

Manuel said there would be two reports released at the end of the investigation: one for the press and a more detailed account for the mayor and city council.