VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. - LATEST UPDATE
Criminal charges have officially been filed against a Ventura County Sheriff's Deputy accused of stealing prescription medication from a medicine disposal drop-off bin.
The Ventura County District Attorney's Office made the announcement on Wednesday.
Three misdemeanor charges were filed against 45-year-old Matthew Joseph Volpe, of Agoura Hills. The charges include: Petty theft, possession of a controlled substance, hydrocodone, and possession of a controlled substance, alprazolam.
Volpe is scheduled to be arraigned on September 29.
A 22-year veteran deputy with the Ventura County Sheriff's Office may be facing embezzlement of prescription drugs and possession of a controlled substance charges after surveillance video allegedly caught him removing several items from inside a pharmaceutical drop-off bin.
The deputy has been identified as 45-year-old Matthew Volpe of Agoura Hills.
"In early May 2016, a Sheriff's Office employee working at the East Valley Sheriff's Station noticed a significant disparity in the amount of prescription medication in the disposal bin from the day prior," said the Ventura County Sheriff's Office in a statement released to the press on Tuesday. "The employee, who regularly empties the disposal bin, notified Sheriff's investigators who obtained video surveillance footage of the bin. A review of the surveillance footage revealed someone wearing a Sheriff's Office uniform removing medication from the disposal bin without permission."
The Sheriff's Major Crimes Unit launched an investigation and Volpe was placed on paid administrative leave. However, his police powers were suspected and he surrendered his badge and gun, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The following is taken directly from the Ventura County Sheriff's Office press release:
"Investigators initiated a comprehensive investigation which included multiple interviews and a review of additional surveillance footage. The investigation showed Volpe had removed property from the same disposal bin an additional five times between 4-12-16 and 5-6-16. Surveillance video showed that Volpe typically accessed the disposal bin after business hours, often in the very early morning, when staffing levels at the station were at a minimum. The content of what Volpe removed is not known because residents who utilize the disposal bins are not required to list what they place in the bin. Investigators learned Volpe took the key to unlock the disposal bin from the desk of another employee assigned to empty the bin."
"Investigators also wrote and executed search warrants at Volpe's residence, his assigned Sheriff's Office motorcycle, and work locker. During the service of the search warrant investigators found the following medication that was not prescribed to Volpe in a compartment on the Sheriff's Office motorcycle: Carisoprodol (four tablets), Alprazolam (65 tablets), Sotalol (six pills), hydrocodone (12 tablets), and Viagra (one pill)."
All evidence recovered from the months-long investigation was turned over to the Ventura County District Attorney's Office on Tuesday. Investigators say there's no evidence to suggest anyone else was involved.
An internal investigation conducted by the Sheriff's Internal Affairs unit could lead to Volpe's employment termination with the Sheriff's Department.
"I am incredibly disappointed that one of our deputies would abuse his authority and the trust placed in him. His actions bring dishonor to the badge worn proudly and honorably by so many," Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said.
The Sheriff's Office provides residents with safe pharmaceutical drop-off sites for unwanted and expired prescription medication, which the Department says helps prevent countless drug related emergencies. Additional safeguards were put in place to ensure an incident like this does not happen again.