TRAVERSE CITY — Authorities allege that Interlochen resident Aubrey Earl Rye Jr. stole about $1,400 in cash from a nearby Wendy’s restaurant, but the money, collected by Michigan State Police and stored as evidence, is nowhere to be found.
Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney said he learned of the missing money around the beginning of May.
He said cash evidence in other cases vanished from the state police's Cadillac post, but he knew of no other Grand Traverse County cases affected by the missing evidence.
State police are conducting an internal investigation, Cooney said.
“I don’t know what they suspect, but typically with an evidence room a very limited number of people have access to that. Those are going to be not necessarily police officers, but other employees,” Cooney said.
MSP officials confirmed that they'd opened an investigation into missing property from the Cadillac office in March. Lt. David Street, the Cadillac post commander, referred questions to the agency's public affairs office.
Tiffany Brown, a state police spokeswoman, said she couldn't provide any details about the missing money because it's an open investigation.
Rye’s attorney, Traverse City-based lawyer Randy Smith, asked 13th Circuit Court Judge Thomas Power to exclude testimony from involved Michigan State Police officers and photographs of the cash.
“The credibility of the involved State Police personnel is relevant and material to the defense at trial and the failure to make timely disclosures is causing prejudice to the defendant's ability (to) investigate the theft(s)," Smith wrote in the motion.
Smith said he awaits Power’s decision, which he expects within the next week.
Rye's motion comes after a May 19 request for more information about the stolen money. No one provided Smith copies of the requested information, which included names of people with access to the evidence.