A former Butte County Sheriff’s Office employee is accused of stealing items, including prescription drugs and firearms, from the department’s evidence-property building.
The Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday that 48-year-old Kathleen Acosta of Oroville was arrested Sunday. She is accused of stealing the items while employed as an evidence technician in the building.
The arrest resulted from an investigation launched after an Oroville police officer stopped a vehicle Acosta was driving following a domestic dispute. During the stop, a gun, a small quantity of methamphetamine and prescription drugs in Sheriff’s Office evidence packaging were found in the car, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release.
The Oroville officer notified sheriff’s officials of the discovery and sheriff’s detective took over the investigation, searching Acosta’s residence and two storage units she rented. The searches turned up additional property stolen from the evidence-property building, including more prescription drugs and 19 firearms that had been set for destruction or disposal, sheriff’s officials said.
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To date, they said, none of the items recovered are items of evidence in pending criminal cases.
Acosta’s employment with the Sheriff’s Office ended in May, when she resigned after being advised that she faced termination for mishandling property stored in the evidence-property building and then attempting to conceal the misconduct from a supervisor newly assigned to the unit, officials said.
At the time, they said, the matter was handled as a work-performance issue because there was insufficient evidence to indicate any property had been stolen.
During the investigation into Acosta’s work-related misconduct, the Sheriff’s Office commissioned an independent audit of property-handling procedures. The audit did not reveal the theft of items, but sheriff’s officials allege that was because Acosta falsified documents showing the property had been properly disposed of.
The audit, however, confirmed the need for an updated evidence-property facility, and additional procedures and safeguards were recommended. Sheriff’s officials said those recommendations are being implemented, and plans to construct an updated facility are moving forward.
Acosta was booked into the Butte County jail on suspicion of grand theft, embezzlement and unlawful possession of prescription drugs. She posted bail Wednesday and is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 27.
Sheriff’s officials said the investigation continues, and the case has been referred to the Butte County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution. Additional charges stemming from the falsification of official documents are being requested, they said.
Acosta previously served as a sheriff’s clerk and correctional officer for eight years before becoming an evidence technician in July 2014. Sheriff’s officials said nothing in her prior work history gave them reason to believe she was not suited for a position requiring a high degree of trust.