Man Charged With Stealing Marijuana From State

Man Charged With Stealing Marijuana From State
Posted by FoM on November 16, 1999 at 22:19:31 PT
By David Doege of the Journal Sentinel staff
Source: Journal Sentinel 
A Milwaukee man is scheduled to appear today in Circuit Court on charges he helped steal 185 pounds of marijuana from a storage locker the state Department of Justice rented to stow narcotics seized in drug investigations.
Joey C. Flechner got a whiff of the $75,000 cache while visiting his own storage locker at the West Allis facility and figured it might ease the cash pinch he and his roommate were facing, according to a criminal complaint.Flechner, his roommate and another man subsequently broke into the drug locker, according to the complaint, cleaned it out and took the marijuana to their apartment.The roommate wound up fatally shot this month in a still-unsolved Milwaukee shooting, and police subsequently learned about his involvement in the burglary with Flechner, according to police and the complaint.Department of Justice spokesman Jim Haney said the practice of storing illegal narcotics in such facilities will be reviewed as a result of the alleged theft, but he added that the practice was not new and that officials felt the facility was sufficiently secure."Certainly, something like this prompts you to review the security procedures you have in place," Haney said. "They were tight, but not tight enough in this case."Flechner, 26, of the 3600 block of W. Lapham St., was charged with burglary in the case and is scheduled to appear in court today for a preliminary hearing.His roommate, Francis G. Beaudry, 16, died from a single gunshot wound he sustained Nov. 8 behind a home in the block where he lived. No one has been charged in connection with the shooting.Police have said they have not learned the motive for the shooting; they have ordered the medical examiner's report on Beaudry's death sealed.The marijuana was stolen Aug. 21 from the storage locker.Haney said the marijuana, which came from two criminal cases, was stored in a locked locker, in a locked building in a facility surrounded by fence and monitored by a guard."The facility is actually a fairly secure facility," Haney said. "You'd have to go through three levels of locks to gain entry."The facility also has surveillance cameras, so the incident was caught on videotape, he said.Despite all the security, though, other tenants with access to the lockers could easily discern what was inside the locker leased by the Department of Justice, according to the complaint.A department agent acknowledged "that the scent of marijuana was so strong in the hallway outside of the locker," according to the complaint, "that someone walking by could determine what was inside."When he was interviewed by police about the break-in, the complaint says, Flechner described the odor as "strong."Flechner said that he and Beaudry and a man he identified only as "Mikie" stole the marijuana after Beaudry cut his way into the locker, according to the complaint.Flechner said his share was just 11/2 pounds, according to the complaint.Assistant District Attorney Denis Stingl, who charged Flechner, said authorities have not learned the identity of Mikie.Haney said the department used a private storage facility to warehouse the marijuana because federal regulations prohibit storing such a large quantity of an illegal drug in a workplace."We've had to store large quantities in other facilities," Haney said. "I think you'll find other agencies have to do the same."He said the marijuana came from two drug trafficking cases that were resolved with guilty pleas, so no convictions were jeopardized by the missing marijuana.Haney said the marijuana that was stolen was the only narcotics in the locker.Asked why the marijuana was still in storage and not destroyed if the cases were resolved, Haney replied, "I believe that would have been happening soon."Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Nov. 17, 1999.
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