State police accuse employee of stealing money from evidence room

NEWPORT, Ore. - Oregon State Police arrested one of their evidence technicians Wednesday after finding someone ransacked the evidence room at the Newport Area Command office.

Police placed Paula Diane Bell, 37, on unpaid administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.

Bell was arrested on a charges of Theft in the First Degree and Official Misconduct in the First Degree.

Police located Bell in northeast Oregon and transported her to the Lincoln County Jail. She faces arraignment Thursday afternoon.

OSP started the investigation Wednesday morning after a sworn employee discovered the Newport Area Command office evidence room in a disheveled state including opened evidence packaging.

During the day, an undisclosed amount of cash was determined to be missing. The exact amount of cash unaccounted for has not been fully determined.

OSP will be conducting an audit to determine what was unlawfully taken from the evidence room, police said.

A complete audit of the OSP Newport evidence room, as well as evidence rooms at the McMinnville and Tillamook offices, where Bell was responsible for handling, storage and disposal of evidence and other property. She was hired by OSP as an evidence technician on March 31, 2008.

At the request of the Lincoln County District Attorney's Office, the State of Oregon Department of Justice will handle the prosecution. OSP will brief area law enforcement partners of any potential impacts to pending cases.

OSP has 16 evidence technicians, most full-time employees, located with OSP area commands and worksites.