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Matthews police employee charged with embezzlement

A Matthews Police Department employee was arrested Thursday and charged with embezzling property that had been confiscated during criminal cases.

Police said Melissa Guillet, 35, was charged with three counts of embezzlement of funds by a public officer.

Authorities accused the six-year police employee of taking about $2,000 and a handgun.

Police Chief Rob Hunter said the property belonged to cases that already had been settled, so no pending cases are jeopardized.

“We are still investigating to see if any other items were involved, but we believe this is it,” Hunter said, adding that investigators worked closely with the district attorney’s office to determine if future cases might be involved.

Guillet had been employed as a property control technician, responsible for managing seized property. She was fired May 13, Hunter said, following an investigation that took more than two weeks.

Hunter said the case “goes to the core of the integrity of an organization. Hopefully, the trust and confidence residents put in us won’t be destroyed.”

The police chief said the case against Guillet started April 25 with a tip from her estranged husband, whom he did not identify.

“That led to separate but concurrent investigations – one criminal, the other a personnel investigation,” Hunter said. “The investigations rather quickly determined that there was a case.”

Police say Guillet turned herself in to the sheriff’s office at a county jail Thursday afternoon.

Hunter said the cases involved about $2,000 in cash and the handgun, which had been scheduled for destruction. The cash, seized in several local cases, would have been turned over to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, as is the case with all money seized in local criminal cases.

Hunter said Guillet told police she returned the gun after initially taking it. She said the gun eventually was destroyed, the police chief said.

“But we have no way of proving that,” Hunter said.

He said the investigation is continuing, to determine if other items might have been taken or if pending cases might have been involved. “If anything turns up, we will act accordingly,” he said.

Hunter said the case has forced a change in the way Matthews police handle evidence. There will be at least two people handling all seized property, he said.

“I take some responsibility for this,” Hunter said. “But we have changed our policy.”

Guillet could not be reached Thursday.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107
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