Trooper First Class Aaron Huntsman, 43, an 18-year veteran of the force, was the lead investigator of a Sept. 22 crash in Fairfield, Conn., that killed John Scalesse Jr., 49, of Orange, Conn. Prosecutors said a dashboard camera in Huntsman's patrol car offers evidence Huntsman took the cash and chain -- then was one of two troopers who went to Scalesse's mother's home to inform her of his death, the Hartford Courant said Wednesday.
While investigating the scene, Huntsman, the ranking officer, asked a paramedic transporting Scalesse if there was a wallet on him. Noticing a bulge in his pocket, the paramedic cut open his pants, revealing a large wad of cash and some credit cards. One trooper told the paramedic to put the cash back in the man's pocket, but Huntsman said he would take the money for evidence. The same was done for a gold chain found on the ground at the accident scene.
Scalesse's father, John Sr., who said his son always carried between $2,000 and $4,000 in cash on him, called Huntsman to ask whether the money had been recovered -- and about a gold chain his son always wore, but wasn't returned by the hospital with his other belongings. Huntsman allegedly told the elder Scalesse on multiple occasions no money or chain had been recovered.
After the family made contact with Huntsman's supervisor, a review of the patrol car tape shows the back of the ambulance and Huntsman can be heard saying he would take the money as evidence. The trooper initially denied taking the money, but a month later police found the cash under the passenger seat of his patrol car.
Huntsman is charged two counts of third-degree larceny and one count each of interfering with an officer and tampering with physical evidence. He was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the case.