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Springdale police evidence room a treasure trove of guns, drugs and money

| Thursday, June 19, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Springdale police recently searched through a cache of guns, knives, drugs and cash.

It wasn't found during a search of a suspect's home.

The weapons and drugs have been piling up for decades in the police department's evidence room.

An inventory of the room in the basement of the borough building tallied nearly 100 firearms and drugs with a street value of $100,000, police Chief Julio Medeiros reported to council.

The Allegheny County District Attorney's office recently sent two assistant district attorneys and an intern to help with the inventory, which is still not complete, Medeiros said.

Some of it would have accumulated during the tenure of Joe Naviglia, who was the borough's police chief from 1997 to 2013. Some of the guns were taken in mental health and domestic violence cases, he said.

“You have to hold those guns until you get a court order or until the district attorney's office puts a destruction order out,” Naviglia said. “You got to be very careful when you destroy firearms.”

Baseball bats and knives were among the weapons being kept.

Drugs in the department's possession include heroin and crack cocaine, and paraphernalia such as needles and syringes, Medeiros said.

Naviglia said some drugs were destroyed under his watch. He said he'd go through the evidence room once or twice a year.

“I was a working chief, along with the administrative stuff. I didn't get down to the evidence room every day,” he said. “I never really had the time, since I was out on the road the majority of the time.

“I'm sure there was a lot of evidence in that room,” he said.

Nearly $1,200 in unclaimed money was also found. It was turned over to the borough, but Medeiros asked for his department to get the money back for its own use.

Medeiros said his department will seek a destruction order to allow for melting the firearms and incinerating the drugs later this summer.

Medeiros noted that some of the guns are collectors items, with a couple being worth thousands of dollars. The guns either cannot be traced to their owners, or were owned by people who can no longer legally own firearms.

Medeiros said he will see if the valuable weapons could be auctioned, with proceeds going to the borough.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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