10 Police Officers Charged In Double-Dipping Probe
Friday, October 5, 2007
Ten Montgomery County police officers were criminally charged yesterday in a wide-scale investigation that concluded that they and others improperly earned more than $200,000 from a private employer while they were on duty with the police force, authorities said.
Four officers face felony theft charges and six others have agreed to plead guilty to misconduct in office, a misdemeanor offense. Five others agreed to resign and pay restitution and would not be prosecuted.
"This is a difficult day for me as state's attorney for Montgomery County," the prosecutor, John J. McCarthy, said at a news conference outside the courthouse in Rockville. "I've worked in this building for the past 25 years with the men and women who serve as police officers. . . . I continue to believe in the integrity, quality and dedication of this outstanding police department."
The announcement of the charges capped a six-month probe that has shaken the department and put county prosecutors in the position of investigating officers they normally depend on to build cases.
All told, in the past five years, the officers improperly billed Grady Management, a Silver Spring real estate firm, for more than 8,900 hours for which they also were compensated by the police department, authorities said.
Two of the officers, Scotty Arnold, 41, and James Redd, 44, were indicted by a county grand jury yesterday on felony theft and misdemeanor misconduct charges. Two others, Victor Valerio, 39, and Christopher Garland, 40, agreed to plead guilty to the felony offense, officials said. McCarthy declined to say whether he intends to seek jail time in any of the cases.
The 10 officers who were charged earned from $61,000 to $75,000 a year at the police department, according to a personnel roster. Officers who qualify for pensions would not be required to forfeit them, officials said.
Officials did not release the names of the remaining five officers.
In making plea offers and other determinations, prosecutors said they focused mainly on the amount of money each officer appeared to have earned unlawfully.
Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said supervisors did not detect the abuse for years because the officers conducted their official duties even as they were paid for the part-time work as guards.
"This is not a case of sloppy bookkeeping," Manger said. "It's nothing we would have been able to observe. They were in their patrol areas, responding to calls, doing their jobs for the police department the whole time."
He said the department has no immediate plans to increase oversight of part-time employment, which he said is regulated by strict guidelines.