A charge that a Raleigh man took a gym bag containing cash and a $35,000 diamond earring last year was dropped by the Wake County District Attorney's office because a security video had been destroyed and witnesses whom police had interviewed had become reluctant to talk, the prosecutor in the case said.
Patrick Julian Bavero, 49, was named in an arrest warrant that Raleigh police swore out a week after the April 21 theft was reported by a patron at a Retro Fitness gym on Glenwood Avenue.
Detectives went to Bavero’s Belmont Valley Court home to arrest him, but they were told he was in New York, Assistant District Attorney Travis Wiggs said. Bavero turned himself in at the Wake County Detention Center on Aug. 8.
A grand jury indicted Bavero on the charge in September.
Wiggs said he sent an investigator from the district attorney’s office to the gym to collect the security video and to re-interview witnesses as the DA’s office prepared for a trial.
The investigator was told, however, that recorded security footage of a lobby area “had been erased or recorded over, but it was gone,” Wiggs said.
An anonymous source told the investigator that people who had spoken with police in April had since been advised not to talk about the incident, Wiggs said.
A Dec. 19 motion filed to ask a judge to dismiss the indictment stated, “Video surveillance not available, witnesses uncooperative.”
Without those, Wiggs said, he did not think a judge would allow the charge to go to trial.
The papers also noted that, “Stolen property was possessed by someone else shortly after the report of the larceny.”
Bavero had said in a phone call to a reporter a few weeks before the indictment that he planned to go to trial to prove his innocence and that police knew someone else had stolen the bag.