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December 18, 2015

Former Upper Darby cop allegedly stole thousands of pills, cash from evidence room

Officer had been department's primary evidence custodian at the time

12182015_BradRoss /Courtesy of the Delaware County District Attorney's Office

Brad A. Ross, a former Upper Darby police officer, faces hundreds of charges for allegedly stealing and tampering with evidence that had been secured in the Upper Darby Police Department's evidence room.

A 17-year-veteran of the Upper Darby Police Department, who had been the department's primary evidence custodian, has been charged with stealing more than 3,000 drugs and $14,000 from the department's evidence room, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan announced Friday.

Brad A. Ross, 41, of Aldan, faces 203 of counts of theft, receiving stolen property, tampering with evidence, obstruction of the administration of law and related offenses.

Instead of seeking help, Officer Ross attempted to conceal his addiction by repeatedly betraying the trust of his department," Whelan said. "His selfish and shameful behavior has not only caused his department a great deal of anguish and difficulty, but has led to the potential compromise of evidence."

The investigation began on Jan. 29 after a Upper Darby Criminal Investigator Kevin Dinan, who is secondary evidence custodian for the department, noticed an acetylene tank had been moved on an evidence room shelf.

On top of the tank was a large paper bag containing evidence envelopes, police said. Dinan looked inside one of the envelopes and found a prescription bottle containing two white pills. An inspection label on the envelope indicated there should have been 40 pills inside the container, police said.

Dinan later told Delaware County detectives he texted Ross to let him know what he had found. Ross replied, “Yes Mine. I was gonna do it last night but took off. Well some of it is mine. I’ll bang it out tonight,” according to investigators.

Later on Jan. 29, Dinan questioned Ross in person about the evidence envelope. Ross told him the rest of the pills were at his desk, police said. Two days later, the Upper Darby police were notified that Ross had committed himself to an in-patient drug rehab.

This prompted a more in-depth examination of the evidence room involving more Upper Darby police, according to the district attorney's office.

They allegedly found several more narcotics missing from the original envelopes Dinan had discovered, including the painkiller oxycodone. Among other evidence files stored in the room, police allegedly found more missing drugs and missing cash.

On Feb. 11, detectives from the Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division, served a search warrant at Ross' home in Aldan. They allegedly found a pill bottle labeled with the name "Eddie Johnson" and containing a plastic bag with numbers and letters that matched the format used for evidence at the Pennsylvania State Police crime lab in Lima.

Upper Darby police said they confirmed the bottle had been seized during at 2012 investigation.

From Feb. 9 through Feb. 23, county detective conducted an audit of every evidence file in the Upper Darby Police Department. They determined 203 evidence items had been tampered with, the district attorney said.

The missing items included 3,767 pills and suboxone strips; $14,224.54 in cash; eight cell phones; and assorted gift cards and jewelry, police said.

Investigators also found Ross had been prescribed oxycodone 18 times between Sept. 12, 2013 and Jan. 20, 2015, and he received at total of 1,402 pills.

Whelan said Ross' alleged crimes are not reflective of any problem within the Upper Darby police, and he does not believe the revelation of this investigation hinder his office in prosecuting Upper Darby cases.

"Because of the strength of Upper Darby’s cases, the testimony of other police officers, and existing evidence, we are confident that we will be able to continue with our prosecution of these cases.”

Ross resigned from the police department on March 17.