Three Phoenix police officers, and one former officer -- all based out of the Phoenix Police Department's highly criticized South Mountain Precinct -- have been indicted for stealing thousands of dollars from various businesses that partnered with the department.
The Attorney General's Office released the indictments to the media this morning -- it seems the officers liked getting paid for performing off-duty security work. Actually doing the work was a different story.
According to the indictment, former Officer George Contreras -- an 18-year veteran of the force -- served as the South Mountain Precinct's off-duty work coordinator. Under Contreras' direction, the Precinct contracted with several businesses -- including Cotton Center Townhomes, Laron Incorporated, Arizona Materials, and Eisenberg Properties -- to have off-duty officers perform security at their properties.
A lot of the work, the indictment claims, never happened even though the businesses had paid for the services.
The AG's Office alleges that between December 2007 through December 2009, Contreras falsified invoices and billed the businesses in advance for the security work -- which was never performed.
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As the guy in charge of coordinating the off-duty work program, Contreras assigned the majority of the no-show shifts to himself and the three other officers named in the indictment, Sergeant Benjamin Sywarungsymun, Officer Steven Peck, and Officer Aaron Lentz.
In total, the officers are believed to have swindled more than $16,000 from the businesses that hired them.
Worst hit was Cotton Center Town Homes, which hired the officers to patrol areas with a high crime rates. Three homeowners associations paid the to have a marked patrol car and two officers stationed in their neighborhoods. In many cases, that never happened.
The Phoenix Police Department plans to address the indictment at a press conference this afternoon. Check back to Valley Fever later today for updates.