Deputy Charged with Stealing Evidence

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By Christen Craig

WILLIAMSON - A local sheriff's deputy is behind bars, accused of stealing drugs from an evidence room.

Caleb Craft, 27, made his first court appearance Friday afternoon.

Craft is accused of stealing $5,000 and marijuana that was seized as evidence in a drug case.

He's charged with 3 felonies, including theft over $500, unlawful possession of cannabis with the intent to deliver and official misconduct.

The charges against him were filed by State's Attorney Mike Wepsiec in Jackson County.

Wepsiec explains that's because Craft is accused of stealing from the Southern Illinois Enforcement Group's evidence room located in Carbondale.

"Mr. Craft exercised unauthorized control over $5,000 of Southern Illinois Enforcement Group money," says Wepsiec.

According to court documents, in addition to the $5,000, Craft also took more than 120 grams-- or four ounces-- of marijuana.
Illinois State Police say Craft transferred the cannabis to a third party to sell.

While authorities won't draw a connection between the two, Craft's mother, Wendy Craft, is also in jail. She charged with possession of cannabis.

In a statement, Captain Scott Rice with the Illinois State Police says,
"Illegal acts committed by police officers taint the image of law enforcement everywhere and violate the public's trust."

Craft's boss, Williamson County Sheriff Bennie Vick, also declined an on camera interview but in a statement said,
"It's never easy to arrest an officer of the law. It is not a representation of the thousands of police officers who risk their lives every day keeping our communities safe."

Craft is one of multiple officers recently charged with crimes.
Last week, Carbondale's James Gaddis was sentenced to 30 years for a bank robbery.
Saline County's Todd Fort is accused of having sex with an under-aged intern. His trial is later this month.

Wepsiec says these are isolated incidents.

"There are load and loads of good police officers out there. Men and women who serve their community honorably and honestly," he says.

Wepsiec says the arrests also prove something else.

"A bad cop will not be tolerated," he says.

Craft resigned from the Williamson County Sheriff Department Friday morning. He is being held in Jackson County on $150,000 bond.

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