LITTLE ROCK -- Surplus gun ammunition for Arkansas' state prison systems was taken and sold by a Department of Corrections employee, according to an auditor for the state.
Arkansas Legislative Audit staff member Don Morgan told a legislative committee Wednesday that a 2020 audit found 28,352 rounds of ammunition for .38-caliber revolvers that had been sent to the department's Central Armory in 2017 for disposal could not be found, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The ammunition was worth $8,000.
Corrections Secretary Solomon Graves, who was appointed in 2020, said the employee who took the ammunition no longer works for the department and was a part-time gunsmith, allowing him to sell it without being questioned. Graves said the case was referred to Jefferson County prosecutors, who later told him they didn't find sufficient evidence to file criminal charges. The audit did not identify the employee.
"It appears people assumed that the ammo was just something he came across in normal business," Graves said.
Phone calls to the prosecuting attorney's office rang unanswered Thursday.
Committee members questioned why they were just now learning of the missing ammunition.
"You are telling me that 28,000 rounds just disappeared and could have been on the streets of Little Rock, Pine Bluff or Beebe," said Republican Rep. Jim Wooten. "I would like to submit that this is ridiculous."
Morgan said the former employee apparently sold the ammunition to co-workers.
"From what we can tell, the other employees had no idea it was Central Armory ammo they were buying," Morgan said.
A lack of adequate inventory controls allowed the missing ammunition to go undiscovered for several years, Graves said.
"We had a system that was based on honesty," Graves said. "We have since moved on to an automated inventory system."
Prison officials said the ammunition was for revolvers that were no longer being used because of a shift to other guns.