Unicoi Co. narcotics investigator resigns; investigation ordered

Brad Hicks • Apr 15, 2013 at 9:49 PM

ERWIN — Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley has requested the District Attorney General’s office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation conduct an investigation of the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department’s drug funds and drug evidence following the resignation of one of the department’s narcotics officers.

According to Hensley, Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department narcotics investigator Matthew McNally resigned Friday, two days after McNally took a drug test requested by Hensley. The sheriff said the results came back positive.

McNally, who had worked at the sheriff’s department since August 2007, cited a higher-paying, non-law enforcement job that would take him out of the area as his reason for resigning, Hensley said. The sheriff also said McNally said he would need to begin the new job Monday when he spoke with Hensley on Friday.

“The resignation was however suspicious in timing due to the fact that Office McNally had been given a drug test just two days prior due to suspicious circumstances. The results of the test were unknown at the time of the resignation,” a news release issued Monday by the UCSD said.

Hensley said the UCSD does administer random drug tests, but he can also order the tests if he has suspicion or reason to believe that an officer my be using drugs.

“I did have reason to give Mr. McNally the drug test,” Hensley said Monday.

McNally took the requested drug test Wednesday. The release said the test results were given to Hensley late Monday morning, and the results showed the presence of a controlled substance.

“I immediately contacted the district attorney, Tony Clark, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and requested an investigation into the matter due to the fact that the officer handled drug evidence routinely,” Hensley said in the release. “The decision to conduct this investigation was made by me to assure that no evidence is missing. If evidence is missing or tampered (with), a neutral agency should conduct the investigation to ensure that a conflict of interest is not alleged.”

Hensley said he does not want to elaborate on the type of drugs McNally tested positive for due to the ongoing investigation.

“I want an outside agency to look at everything that he’s been involved in as far as the drug work and evidence, the whole nine yards,” Hensley said. “I have requested an audit be done of the drug funds, as well as the drugs.”

Clark said he has spoken with Hensley and, at this point, sees nothing in the way of criminal action regarding the matter. Clark said he will look into the matter further and will request TBI involvement if necessary. TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm said in a emailed response sent Monday afternoon that the TBI is not investigating the matter at this time.

Hensley said he issued the release not to embarrass McNally or his family, but to “make accurate notification to the citizens of the county.” He said that he will continue to run a transparent department and, if any member of his staff is found to be in violation of departmental policies, he or she will be held accountable.

“I run a transparent department,” Hensley said. “When I find out anything that’s going on within my department that’s not right, whether it’s criminally or whether it’s allegations, I’m going to address it.”

McNally could not be reached Monday for comment.

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