COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. -- A former Cottage Grove police officer accused of stealing methamphetamine from the department’s evidence locker has pleaded not guilty, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Phillip Allan Beach, 48, of Cottage Grove made an initial appearance Wednesday in federal court. Following his plea, Beach was released pending trial.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the Cottage Grove Police Department’s investigation revealed that between March 2010 and June 2015, Beach accessed numerous pieces of drug evidence from multiple cases.
Beach was suspended June 11, 2015, and later that month the department asked the Oregon State Police to investigate the case to determine if there were criminal charges. The investigation was transferred to the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI for investigation and prosecution.
A criminal complaint says that in May 2015, an evidence coordinator with the Cottage Grove Police Department reported to their supervisor that Beach accessed the department’s evidence locker more frequently than other officers for no apparent reason.
A commander with the department examined the bag Beach was said to have accessed repeatedly and found that two plastic bags containing several ounces of meth crystals had been sliced open.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in June of 2015, the Cottage Grove Police Department began an investigation into Beach’s conduct, placing hidden cameras inside the evidence locker. On June 11, 2015, they said Beach was recorded entering the locker without signing in, accessing the evidence bag, and taking a small portion of the meth.
Investigators weighed the evidence bag afterward and found a 7.3 gram reduction in weight, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The department’s investigation also determined that at times Beach would indicate he was taking drugs to send to the crime lab for testing, but no drugs were sent, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. On at least one occasion, Beach is alleged to have replaced meth with salt to conceal his actions.