A former police evidence technician has been ordered to complete treatment and pay more than $18,000 to the police department after stealing drug evidence over a seven-month period.
The restitution was ordered in the criminal case against Rawlyn Michelle Strizich for staff hours, including extensive overtime, needed for a facility-wide audit of the Billings Police Department evidence building, following her self-reported thefts.
Strizich has also been approved for a county drug treatment program geared toward first-time, low-risk offenders.
Strizich stole oxycodone and other opioids from 138 police cases, beginning in July 2017. The thefts came to light in early 2018 when Strizich told her supervisor in the days ahead of a scheduled audit.
Strizich was fired when the audit was complete, and the department undertook a facility-wide audit afterward, purging old and unneeded evidence in the backlogged facility.
On April 11, Yellowstone County District Court Judge Michael Moses gave Strizich a six-year deferred sentence, as requested by prosecutors.
“This type of commitment carries a heavier burden on defendant to demonstrate to the court that defendant can successfully follow the above-listed conditions/rules and earning no felony conviction on her record,” the order states.
Under the terms of the sentence, Strizich will serve probation with the Montana Department of Corrections and participate in the Yellowstone County Drug Intervention Program.
The Billings Police Department requested $18,882.39 in restitution for the staff time it took to audit the facility after the thefts were reported.
Strizich’s attorney, Jim Lippert, did not respond to a request for comment.
Strizich’s thefts were the second instance of an evidence technician stealing drug evidence from the Billings Police Department in three years. Her case prompted reforms at the evidence building, including assigning a lieutenant to the building and requiring more frequent audits.