OGDEN — Candice Follum, who admitted to stealing and eating methamphetamine for three years while she worked as the Weber County Sheriff’s Office’s evidence clerk, was sentenced Tuesday to a year in jail.
Second District Judge Noel Hyde sentenced Follum to 40 prison terms, but suspended all those terms pending successful completion of three years of probation after she serves the jail time.
Follum, 48, shook her head when Hyde asked her if she had anything to say. He then pronounced sentence and a sheriff’s office bailiff handcuffed her and led her out of the courtroom.
Follum pleaded guilty in October to 20 counts of destroying or altering public records, a third-degree felony, and 20 counts of possession or use of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor.
A plea deal recommended that Follum spend a year in jail custody — six months behind bars and six months on work release, able to leave jail to work during the day and return to jail at night. Hyde followed the terms of the plea bargain.
Follum likely will serve her time at the Box Elder County Jail to avoid a conflict of interest, because her former employer runs the Weber jail and her husband is a corrections officer there.
Prosecutor Branden Miles of the Weber County Attorney’s Office told Hyde the plea bargain demonstrates Follum has accepted responsibility for her crimes and “understands the scope of her conduct” and the damage it caused to the sheriff’s evidence operation.
Hyde said he had to balance the interests of the prosecution, the integrity of the justice system and the impact of Follum’s substance abuse on herself and society.
He told Follum she was in a position of responsibility to protect the integrity of the system “and you violated that trust.”
Follum’s substance abuse, Hyde said, “cannot be excused but must be considered” in her sentencing.
As part of her probation, she must undergo substance abuse evaluation, and further treatment if probation officers recommend it.
Follum’s attorney, Kristopher Greenwood, said Follum’s already undergone substance abuse treatment since she was charged.
On Dec. 8, 2017, sheriff’s employees found Follum high of methamphetamine while on duty in the evidence room, according to charging documents. She was suspended and later fired.
She told investigators she had been stealing meth from evidence and eating it for about three years.
In charging documents, prosecutors said Follum told investigators she took the meth if she thought the case was closed and didn’t think “anyone would come looking for the drugs.”
At least 12 criminal cases apparently tainted in the evidence room resulted in convictions, according to previous Standard-Examiner reporting.
Investigators flagged at least 59 sheriff’s office incident reports during an internal affairs probe launched after Follum was fired in January. Of those, the Standard-Examiner obtained 48 reports with an open records request.
At least 33 cases had drugs that apparently went missing in the evidence room, while four others involved mishandled rape kits. Still other case reports detailed instances of missing money and jewelry, mishandled guns, and angry complaints from evidence owners who were turned away by the technician when they attempted to retrieve their property.
A sheriff’s office internal investigation blamed Follum and her supervisor, a veteran lieutenant, for the evidence room fiasco. The lieutenant was forced to retire. No one else in the chain of command was blamed.
Hyde told Follum her actions resulted in “a very, very tragic end, but it is not the end of everything.”
He said she will have to continue to fight against any impulses to abuse drugs because “issues related to substance abuse don’t go away by themselves. You cannot give up on that fight.”