Up to $175K missing from Fla. police evidence room, retired sergeant reportedly at center of probe

Former Sgt. John Nevins, seen in a 1994 photo, is reportedly at the center of a probe investigating the disappearance of as much as $175K from the evidence room of the Hollywood, Fla. Police Department.
Hollywood Police Dept. via Miami Herald/CBS Miami

(CBS) HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - A recently retired police sergeant is at the center of a probe investigating the disappearance of as much as $175,000 from the evidence room of the Hollywood Police Department, CBS Miami reports.

John Nevins, whose job included overseeing the evidence room for the past few years, is being questioned along with everyone else who had that responsibility, The Miami Herald reports.

According to the station, Nevins was allegedly captured on video being let into the room's back door and moving boxes out.

Nevins, 51, who retired in April 2012, rationalized the alleged video footage. "I went to get empty boxes to pack with gifts for the needy," he told CBS Miami. "We stored empty boxes down there."

He told the station he was not aware of the investigation, which involves the Broward State Attorney's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

"The rumor mill has been going and there have been a lot of phone calls as of late," he acknowledged. "Many people worked in there."

The money, which went missing sometime last year, ranges anywhere from $125,000 to $175,000, according to several sources close to the investigation, the station reports.

City officials were aware of problems with its evidence vault as long as five years ago after a civilian who had been running the operation retired. At that time, the whole division was found in gross disarray, sources said, according to the station.

Nevins, a 30-year veteran of the department, took it over along with two other divisions.

Nevins told CBS Miami that the storage room "was a complete mess" when he took it over. He said he asked his bosses several years ago for a financial audit after he couldn't find things that should have been there.

The Hollywood police department's new interim police chief, Vince Affanato, could not be reached for comment. And Chad Wagner, the former police chief who retired from the department a few weeks ago, also could not be reached, according to the station.