Ogden • A former Weber County evidence technician pleaded guilty to 40 charges Tuesday, admitting she tore through evidence bags to eat confiscated methamphetamine on the job.
Candice Barbara Follum, 48, pleaded guilty as charged to 20 counts of third-degree felony altering a public record and another 20 charges of misdemeanor use of a controlled substance.
Attorneys agreed in a plea deal to recommend that she spend one year in the Box Elder County jail — but 2nd District Judge Noel Hyde will ultimately decide her fate at a Dec. 18 sentencing hearing.
Deputy Weber County Attorney Branden Miles said Follum will not be eligible for “good time” or early release, but she will be able to leave the jail for work release after serving six months behind bars.
Follum hardly spoke during Tuesday’s hearing, twice whispering “guilty” when the judge asked for her plea to each batch of charges.
Her attorney, Kristopher Greenwood, said after the court hearing that the resolution was the best outcome for his client in what he called a “really difficult situation.”
“The situation you’ve seen with the Utah State Legislature, they are slowly moving away from incarceration and doing other alternatives, and you see that on all types of drug crimes on down,” he said. “I think we worked out a reasonable resolution where the interests of all parties can be met.”
Greenwood declined to say whether his client has sought any sort of treatment or rehabilitation in the wake of the charges.
Miles said the year in jail would hold Follum accountable for her actions, but noted that if prosecutors had sought a prison sentence, she likely would have served about the same time behind bars — or possibly less.
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 bags 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 by Follum.
Miles said recently that they believe more than 60 cases could have been affected.
Last month, the prosecutor said 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. He said Tuesday that estimate remains the same.
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.