Local News

Former Durham deputy surrenders on embezzlement charges

Posted September 8, 2010 12:19 p.m. EDT
Updated September 8, 2010 5:34 p.m. EDT

— A former Durham County deputy surrendered Wednesday and was released on bond, one day after being indicted on charges that he stole money used in undercover drug operations.

A grand jury indicted Derek O'Mary, who was a lieutenant with the Durham County Sheriff's Office, on 25 charges of embezzlement involving "buy funds" used by the department's vice officers. He also was indicted on another embezzlement charge, obstruction of justice and cocaine possession involving the alleged theft of drug evidence from the department.

Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman with the state Attorney General's Office, which is handling the case, said the alleged embezzlement involved $97,976 in county funds and occurred between July 2003 and March 2009.

Court records show undercover officers turned 9.2 ounces of cocaine over to O'Mary following an operation, but when it was put into the evidence room at the sheriff's office to be kept until a trial, it weighed only about 7 ounces.

Durham County Sheriff Worth Hill fired O'Mary in April 2009, about two weeks after detectives in his department's Anti-Crime Narcotics Unit presented evidence that O'Mary wasn't properly managing the account used for undercover drug buys.

Deputies immediately secured O'Mary's office and documents as possible evidence, and Hill and Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline asked the State Bureau of Investigation to pursue the case.

The sheriff's office has since implemented more oversight and auditing to its cash-handling procedures, Hill said in a statement.

O'Mary was released Wednesday morning after posting a $50,000 bond.

"Criminal charges against any individual are simply the beginning of a process," O'Mary's attorney, Joe Cheshire, said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon. "Mr. O’Mary had a long and substantial career serving the people of Durham County, and no one should forget his sacrifices as we work through the process of this case."