Prosecutors say they’re close to a plea deal for a former Weber County evidence technician who is facing dozens of criminal charges for allegedly stealing and eating methamphetamine on the job.
Candice Barbara Follum, 48, was in court for the first time Tuesday after she was charged in late August with 20 counts of third-degree felony altering a public record and another 20 charges of misdemeanor use of a controlled substance.
She did not speak during her brief hearing, where a court clerk read the charges against her. A new court date was set for Oct. 23.
Deputy Weber County Attorney Branden Miles told reporters afterward that he hopes to have a plea deal agreed to before that date. He declined to give more details about what the deal might entail.
“We are working on a resolution,” he said. “We are close to having that in place.”
If convicted of any of the third-degree felonies, Follum could face a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison.
Follum and her attorney, Kristopher Greenwood, left the courthouse without commenting.
Charging documents say Follum wrote a statement admitting she took meth tied to about 15 or 20 cases from the evidence room — though investigators now believe she had compromised many more cases. 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 meth 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.
Miles said recently that they believe more than 60 cases could have been affected.
He said Tuesday that the evidence room scandal has led to the dismissal of about a dozen criminal cases, and “several dozen” more were likely compromised due to “chain of custody” issues.
According to Miles and County Attorney Chris Allred, prosecutors have not been tracking affected cases and have been unable to flag specific cases in their case management system. The estimates have come from “asking around the office."
Follum 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, the evidence room was in disarray and prosecutors often had to make multiple requests that evidence be sent to a crime lab. Sometimes it took months before the evidence was ever sent, and other times, it was never sent.
Investigators now believe that delay was due to Follum’s daily drug use and evidence theft.