Former Bella Vista Officer Arrested, Accused Of Mishandling Evidence

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BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) -- A Bella Vista police officer accused of mishandling evidence was arrested Tuesday (Jan. 9).

Clayton J. Roberts, 36, surrendered to authorities at the Benton County Sheriff's Office.

Bella Vista police had received a phone call from the Arkansas State Crime Lab stating that pills submitted as evidence did not match what was reflected on the submit form, according to the probable cause affidavit.

The affidavit states that when an arrest is made involving pills, those pills are photographed by the arresting officer before being turned in as evidence. The crime lab had photos showing that the pills did not match the pills seized upon the initial arrest, according to the affidavit. The arresting officer was told the same issue had occurred several months earlier. The officer said it was apparent that the package had been tampered with, the affidavit states.

In an arrest on May 2017, four suspected pills of Oxycodone were seized. The four white pills had been stamped with the number 30 and the letters RP, the affidavit states. The four pills that were sent to the crime lab were labeled M 18. An audit report showed that Roberts accessed this case report on June 30, 2017.

One white pill stamped IP110 was seized in a felony arrest on Dec. 27, 2016. The pill that showed up at the crime lab was a different shape, size and color. The evidence packaging also appeared to be tampered with, according to the affidavit. The audit report showed that Roberts had accessed this case report on Dec. 27, 2016.

Four and a half oval pills stamped RP 15 were seized on Feb. 7, 2017. Five white pills were sent to the crime lab and identified as furosemide, which is a water diuretic, the affidavit states. The same arrest also included two blue pills stamped E8 and consistent with Oxycodone. The pills that showed up to the crime lab were identified as morphine. The affidavit states that Roberts accessed this case report on Feb. 8, 2017.

Five pills were stamped Watson 853, two pills stamped 2172, and three and a half pills stamped M365 were seized on Aug. 12, 2017. The affidavit states that these pills are now missing from the evidence room and nothing has been submitted to the crime lab.

According to the affidavit, pills were missing from the evidence room in relation to unattended death cases that had been worked by the Bella Vista Police Department.

Over 80 Hydrocodone pills were taken from three unattended death cases over the span of two years, according to the affidavit. An audit report showed that Roberts had accessed one report multiple times.

Roberts was interviewed on Dec. 19, 2017. He said he had given access to the evidence room in 2015. According to the affidavit, he said he often helped a detective with processing items in the evidence room. When asked why he was going to the computer system for unattended deaths, he said he just liked to see what the guys did, the affidavit states. He denied looking to see what medications were used in the deaths and taking any pills.

He then left the interview, but later informed the detective he would like one more opportunity to say what was going on. He then stated, "it was me." The affidavit states he confessed that he was the one responsible for switching the pills out of the evidence packages. He said he started taking the pills because he has an addiction to the pills and liked the way they made him feel, according to the affidavit. The affidavit states he began taking pills from the narcotics room after he was given access in 2015.

Roberts was booked Tuesday on suspicion of tampering with physical evidence and controlled substances.

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