WSAZ Investigates | Trooper casino theft video released
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - After weeks of requests by WSAZ NewsChannel 3, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice released a surveillance video Tuesday that investigators say shows a now retired member of the State Police taking an envelope filled with money.
WSAZ broke the story in early March, when NewsChannel 3′s Curtis Johnson brought an anonymous letter the station received -- detailing the casino allegations -- to the now former head of state police, then Col. Jan Cahill.
The letter states in May 2021 a senior trooper stole cash from a man at the casino in Cross Lanes. It also states the case was never presented to the prosecutor, no criminal charges were filed, there was no internal investigation and that the trooper was allowed to retire.
WSAZ immediately filed a Freedom of Information Act request - trying to obtain the video.
The Governor’s Office released it Tuesday.
The video starts when a man stands up to get a drink at the casino, all while not realizing that he left an envelope of cash sitting in the chair. That man eventually walks away.
Then, a few minutes later, another man and a woman walk into frame. The man, who Justice has identified as an off-duty state trooper, sees the envelope and immediately picks it up. WSAZ has chosen to blur his face since he hasn’t been criminally charged.
The off-duty trooper appears to place the envelope on a slot machine. He then can be seen looking around. He eventually picks up the envelope again, speaks with a woman briefly -- envelope still in hand -- and walks away through the casino, eventually out of frame.
He then re-appears with both hands in his pockets and no sign of the envelope.
Justice, on Monday, called it theft.
“There’s no way to look at this other than just this - the trooper picked it up and took the money,” he said. “Basically, any way you cut it, that money was stolen.”
Video then shows the man walking throughout the casino, once stopping to get a drink and another time stopping, it appears, to play a slot machine, all before re-joining the woman he was with earlier.
Video then showing the couple walk through the casino before eventually walking out the door and into the casino parking lot.
After receiving the video Tuesday, Johnson reached out for an interview with the governor. His staff said he was unavailable.
So, Johnson followed up with an email, asking why criminal charges have not filed in relation to the alleged theft. The office did not receive a response.
Cahill stepped down Monday as the head of State Police.
Johnson spoke with him again Tuesday. Cahill again said he did not learn of the casino incident until last month.
Now that WSAZ has obtained the video, Johnson also wanted to get Cahill’s thoughts on the incident and why the trooper was allowed to retire the day after the now former colonel became aware of the alleged theft.
“So he picks up an envelope of money that does not belong to him,” Johnson asked.
“Yes,” Cahill replied.
“And, you telling me that’s not theft,” Johnson asked.
“I can’t tell you what the prosecuting attorneys view that is. I can tell you in similar situations, no one’s ever been charged,” Cahill replied. “And again, I find out about this Feb. 16, 2023, from something that happened in May of 2021.”
“With all due respect, how does that happen,” Johnson asked. “You’re the head of the State Police. How does it take more than a year for you to find out?”
“Yes, I wish I would have been made aware that two years earlier, and we would have launched an earlier investigation,” Cahill replied.
Cahill told Johnson a state trooper -- assigned to the casino -- did not relay the information.
“And yes, I feel like the person assigned to there, absolutely should have reported this incident since it involved one of our senior staff to his next supervisor, there’s no argument there,” Cahill said.
“So was he inappropriate in not reporting that?” Johnson asked.
“I think he absolutely should have reported it,” Cahill replied.
The governor appointed an interim superintendent of State Police on Monday. Jack Chambers took over the post immediately.
The governor says he will work closely with Department of Homeland Security to investigate the alleged theft and other claims of wrongdoing alleged in a separate anonymous letter sent to state leaders.
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