25 handguns missing from sheriff's department April 20, 2007 MACHIAS - The state attorney general is sending an investigator to the Washington County Sheriff's Department, which says about 25 handguns are missing from its evidence room. Sheriff Donnie Smith, who notified county commissioners last week, said two guns in the evidence room can be traced to one person, but he didn't elaborate. Also, $450 in cash is missing from the department's administrative office, he said. An investigator from the attorney general's office is expected to be in Machias in two weeks to look into the thefts. The sheriff said that if the investigation reveals that someone in his department was involved, the person will be fired. The department discovered the loss after a lawyer sent a letter to Smith, saying his client wanted his weapon back. When officials looked for it, it was missing. That's when the investigation turned up other missing weapons. Guns are placed in the evidence room for a variety of reasons. Some are taken from crime scenes or seized from individuals. Seized guns are returned to owners at their request if they not charged with an offense, or if they are found not guilty of an offense. Smith said he has instituted stricter standards for handling evidence. The only people in the department with keys are the sheriff, chief deputy and full-time deputies.