| News |

Twenty-five Officers Eyed in Phoenix PD Fraud Investigation -- Including Officer Richard Chrisman and Sergeant Sean Drenth

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Phoenix police Chief Jack Harris (yeah, we're still callin' him "chief" until he takes off the uniform) insisted this afternoon that the Phoenix Police Department is not a "corrupt organization," as he explained the department's role in the investigation of three Phoenix police officers -- and one former officer -- indicted for fraud.

In total, 25 officers within the department were investigated by the Attorney General's Office for what basically boils down to a time-theft scam. The scam cost several businesses that hired off-duty Phoenix police officers to act as security guards about $16,000. Included in those investigated by the AG's Office are the department's killer cop, Richard Chrisman, and Sergeant Sean Drenth, who was mysteriously found shot to death near the State Capitol last month.

Skeptics suggest Drenth's death might have something to with this investigation, but Harris claims to have no knowledge of any connection. However, he did say the detectives investigating Drenth's death are aware of the fraud investigation.

As for his role in the scam, Harris says, if Drenth were still alive, he probably would face felony theft charges.

According to Harris, officers do about $30 million worth of off-duty work a year at various events around the community. He says the department's off-duty work program will continue, but will be reviewed by the city auditor.

The 25 officers investigated by the AG's Office who weren't indicted have been suspended from off-duty work, Harris says, and their cases will be turned over to the professional standards bureau, which will determine any further disciplinary action.

The fraud indictments are just the latest in a series of problems plaguing the Phoenix Police Department. Each of these seem to come from one place: the South Mountain Precinct, which was home to Chrisman, Drenth, and the majority of the officers investigated by the AG's Office.

Harris recently made several leadership changes at the precinct to try to clean up what is perceived to be the city's most corrupt precinct.

But Harris says the problems are "misconduct," not corruption.

"Painting the Phoenix Police Department as a corrupt organization because of this investigation is unfair," he says.

Although, he says, "This is not what we expect from the Phoenix Police Department."

This may not be what we expect from the Phoenix Police Department as a whole, but this is exactly what we've come to expect from the South Mountain Precinct lately.

Below are photos of the three current officers indicted for theft, Benjamin Sywarungsymun, er Steven Peck, and Aaron Lentz.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.