CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A special prosecutor is investigating whether a former Chesterfield County narcotics detective broke the law when he changed several warrants after the searches had been conducted and five arrests were made.
Chesterfield police said the detective outlined the probable cause for the case in an affidavit as required before the magistrate signed off on the warrants. Authorities said the affidavit’s details were “true and accurate” and that the detective legally obtained the search warrants.
But when writing up the warrants, a step that police said the magistrate generally does after approving the affidavit, the detective left out the description of the items that investigators believed would be found during the searches.
“Regretfully, after the search warrants were executed, the detective noticed that information pertaining to the items to be searched were outlined in the affidavit but not filled out on the search warrant,” Chesterfield Police Chief Jeffrey Katz wrote in a Facebook post. “This was a simple clerical error. The issue should have ended there…but it didn’t.”
The detective, later identified as Robert Sprouse, allegedly filled the information out and submitted the altered search warrants to the courts. Katz stressed that the detective did not make any changes to the facts in the case.
“The material facts needed to establish the probable cause did not change and were not modified; however, an omission – missed by both the detective and the magistrate – was added after warrant service,” Katz wrote. “This modification of a public document is inappropriate and potentially illegal.”
Chesterfield’s prosecutor dismissed all the criminal charges linked to the search warrants, which involved drug distribution and gun-related charges, and all of the five defendants were released.
Spotsylvania County Commonwealth’s Attorney Travis Bird was appointed as special prosecutor in the case at the request of Chesterfield Commonwealth’s Attorney Stacey Davenport.
Davenport told 8News that her office “felt there were evidentiary and constitutional issues for the prosecutions.”
“My office does not intend to call Detective Sprouse to testify as a witness in the prosecution of any other pending or future cases; however, I have no reason to believe that this incident was anything other than isolated,” Davenport wrote in an email.
Bird’s office will investigate whether Sprouse should face criminal charges and prosecute if that should be the case, Davenport added.
Sprouse is no longer employed by Chesterfield police, a spokesperson confirmed Monday. They did not share whether he was fired or resigned.