Fourteen current and former police officers in Maryland’s Prince George’s County were indicted by a grand jury on Aug. 25. According to prosecutors, they secretly double-dipped shifts, meaning they simultaneously worked as both private security and at the police department. They made extra money as private security while on the clock for the police department.
Double dipping occurs when employees covered by a state or municipal pension retire, which triggers the start of pension payments, are rehired in the same role from which they retired, according to Investopedia.
A Prince George’s County program allows officers to earn extra income through working as private security, but they must get approval from the department and work while they are off duty, The Washington Post reported.
The indicted officers ranged in rank from Police Officer First Class to Corporal, according to DCist. They all joined the department between 2011 and 2016; the youngest is 29, the oldest is 45. They now face charges ranging from misconduct to misdemeanor and felony theft. If convicted of felony theft, the officers can face up to five years in prison. Misconduct in office does not have a maximum sentence.
In addition to accusations that they “double-dipped,” some of the officers are also accused of give false information to the owners of the apartment complexes where they worked as security guards.
Thirteen of the officers are charged with theft schemes of at least $1,500 to under $25,000, and one is charged with theft scheme of at least $100 to under $1,500.
“Police officers are sworn to protect and serve the public, and they take an oath to uphold the law. These indictments demonstrate our commitment to pursuing justice regardless of a suspect’s race, gender, religion, or occupation,” Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said in the release.
The officers charged in the indictment are Corporal Nick Agapov, Corporal Jonathan Haskett, Corporal Mathew Obordo, Corporal Matthew Cotillo, Corporal Joshua Hitchens, Corporal Chris Hall, Corporal Michael O’Connell, Corporal Kyle Cook, Corporal Travis Popieilarcheck, Corporal Anthony Brooke, Corporal Brandon Farley, Police Officer First Class Christopher Oliver, Police Officer First Class John Mcintosh, and retired Corporal James Lubonski, according to the DCist.
“In the face of the surging crime we have seen over the past few weeks, it is very difficult to have to bring a case like this to the public. However, it is critical to our system of justice that those sworn to protect us operate with integrity and have credibility with my office, our judicial officers, and the citizens who serve on our juries,” Braveboy said. “Public safety cannot operate without integrity. The badge has to mean something. What it means in Prince George’s County is that our officers are not above the law.”
Photo: Prince George’s County, Md. police officers leave the church after funeral services, March 25, 2016, in Upper Marlboro, Md. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)