A former Weber County evidence technician was charged Tuesday with 40 criminal counts, accused of stealing and eating methamphetamine in dozens of cases over a number of years.
Candice Barbara Follum, 48, is facing 20 counts of third-degree felony altering a public record and another 20 charges of misdemeanor use of a controlled substance.
Charging documents say Follum wrote a statement admitting she took meth from about 15 or 20 cases in the evidence room — though investigators now believe she had compromised more than twice as many. She later admitted to investigators that she had been stealing drugs from the evidence room for the past three years and had been eating the drugs while on the job.
Investigators found 38 cases where methamphetamine had been taken from sealed evidence packaging, according to charging documents. And there were at least 46 packages in the evidence room that were altered or destroyed, allegedly by Follum.
“Some cases had multiple pieces of evidence which were destroyed,” Deputy Weber County Attorney Branden Miles wrote in charging documents.
No court dates have been set yet for Follum, who was fired in January after she was caught high on drugs at work the month prior.
The Weber County Attorney’s Office has had issues with evidence stored at the sheriff’s office for about two years. According to an internal investigation done by the sheriff’s office, prosecutors often had to make multiple requests that evidence be sent to a crime lab, and sometimes it took months before the evidence was ever sent. Other times, it was never sent.
Investigators now believe that delay was due to Follum’s daily drug use and evidence theft.
County Attorney Chris Allred estimated last week that about a dozen of the county’s court cases were affected by Follum’s alleged drug use in the evidence room — though he added prosecutors have not been flagging or keeping track of which specific cases were affected.
“We’ve definitely had to dismiss some cases,” he said.
Investigators found that Follum had kept the evidence room in disarray. Often, the problem wasn’t that Follum had stolen evidence, but that she couldn’t find it.
Allred said there was money missing in some cases, and other evidence was affected because the room wasn’t organized.
“The evidence room had other problems,” Allred said, “because it was being run by a drug addict.”
Though Follum’s alleged thefts had an impact on the county’s prosecuting office, Allred said he does not believe there is a conflict for his office to file criminal charges against her because she was not an employee there.
It’s not clear whether the number of tainted cases will continue to grow — or what types of cases have been dismissed thus far. Allred in February sent a letter to local defense attorneys telling them their cases may have been potentially affected by Follum’s conduct, according to records obtained through a public records request. But when The Salt Lake Tribune asked for a list of which attorneys received the notification, county officials responded by saying none existed.