in Houston, Texas
Former Houston police officer gets 20-year sentence for stealing $656K from police union
Friday, Sep 23, 2011, 04:24PM CST
By Mike Cronin
HPD patch

A former Houston police officer who confessed and pleaded guilty to stealing at least $656,000 from the Houston Police Officers Union was sentenced today to 20 years in prison.

“I think you're remorseful, no question,” State District Judge Michael McSpadden told a teary-eyed and choked-up Matthew Calley, 46, of Magnolia, after his ruling.

The judge also praised Calley's exemplary police record and described the folder of support letters and professional commendations the former officer received during his roughly 25-year career.

“No one appreciates what police officers do for our society more than I, which is why this was a tough decision,” McSpadden said to Calley. “But you have betrayed the public's trust.”

McSpadden could have sentenced Calley to life in prison for his pleading guilty to first-degree felony theft in excess of $200,000 and misapplication of fiduciary funds.

But the judge said he showed leniency in doling out the two-decade sentence, despite Calley's theft of “a huge amount of money.”

Calley ultimately admitted to stealing the money from two different union accounts to fuel what his lawyer, Paul Nugent, described as a gambling addiction.

Nugent and several others – including Calley's law-enforcement officer father and brother and two former colleagues – asked that McSpadden consider one of the Houston Police Department's mottos, “Justice with Mercy,” in deliberating the sentence.

Calley's father and brother cried, as did many of the roughly 30 in the courtroom audience, when they testified.

Prosecutors asked McSpadden for a “firm” sentence not only due to the betrayal of public and police trust and the amount of money Calley stole, but also due to Calley's efforts to conceal his embezzlement.

One of the accounts from which Calley stole was funded by contributions from local residents to help the police officers in financial straits and provide scholarship money for the children of police officers, prosecutors said.

George Jordan, Harris County's chief fraud examiner, testified that among the ways Calley defrauded the union was to deposit only portions of union money into the union's credit-union account, then walk out with up to $5,000 in cash in his pocket.

“We found 266 fraudulent transactions,” Jordan said when describing his investigation of Calley. But the investigation could go only back to June 2003 because that was the extent of financial records that existed. If Jordan found a Calley transaction that was questionable but could not be proven to fraudulent, Jordan removed it from the fraud total.

Union members became aware of Calley's theft in January 2010. Calley resigned from the union board and retired the following month.

***
Contact Mike Cronin at mike@texaswatchdog.org or 713-228-2850. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelccronin or @texaswatchdog.

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Comments
Retired HPD
Saturday, 09/24/2011 - 11:23PM

HPPU should recoup their loss by taking that low life thief's DROP and drag up.... that is, if he hasn't already blown it at the crap table. Bah!

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