UPDATE – Van Valkenburg Investigation Is About ‘A Box of Personal Effects’ Says Former County Attorney – Matter Referred To State Department of Criminal Investigations
UPDATE : 12:30 p.m. Monday, May 9.
The Missoula City Police Department has asked the State of Montana Office of Criminal Investigations to look into the incident in which former Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg removed items from a secure storage facility.
Spokesman John Barnes said when there are different municipal agencies involved in such an incident, that the DCI is called upon to conduct an investigation.
Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst sent out a press release to local media affiliates regarding an investigation into why former county attorney Fred Van Valkenburg was allowed into a secure county storage facility.
Below, find the text of the press release:
RE: stolen files from secure storage
Dear Media Contacts,
Last Tuesday, on May 3, 2016 Missoula County experienced a security breach at the County Attorney’s secure file storage area where confidential criminal justice information is kept. Witnesses identified former county attorney Fred Van Valkenburg as one of the people who entered the locked area, with the assistance of maintenance personnel. Van Valkenburg removed a box of unknown, original files and/or property.
An official investigation is pending by the Missoula Police Department. Meanwhile Missoula County is examining security procedures and taking corrective action to ensure this will not happen again.
KGVO News contacted Van Valkenburg at his Missoula home and said he was unaware of any such investigation until media outlets began contacting him Monday morning. Van Valkenburg confirmed that he indeed gained entry into the storage area with specific permission from a county official.
"Last week I went to the county facilities manager Larry Farnes and asked him if I could get into the storage area to retrieve a box of personal items that I realized I had left at the county when I left my employment there," Van Valkenburg said. "He agreed to that and set up a time when one of his assistants would meet me there. I was let in by the assistant to Mr. Farnes."
Van Valkenburg went on to describe what was in the box he removed from the facility.
"I found a box that contained nothing other than my own personal effects that I had stored there when the county attorney's office had moved from the second floor to the fourth floor of the courthouse. I showed it to him what the contents were, and he agreed that it was all my stuff, so I took them and went."
Van Valkenburg said as of 11 a.m. Monday, no one had contacted him about the matter, either from the Missoula County Attorney's office, or from the Missoula Police Department.
"They make it sound like I broke into the place or something," he continued. "I think anyone who has ever worked somewhere may have some personal stuff, like birthday cards and stuff like that, and that's all this is."
A call to current Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst has not been returned at the time this report was published.