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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Police Chief Arrested on Embezzlement and ID Theft

Platteville police chief arrested on embezzlement and ID theft charges
The Greeley Tribune by Nate A. Miller - November 30, 2011
Authorities: Chief used officers’ info to steal funds for gas

Platteville’s police chief has resigned after being accused of using the Social Security numbers of his fellow officers to illegally use police department fuel cards to buy gas for his own vehicle. Scott Alan Smith, 47, surrendered to Morgan County Sheriff’s Office deputies and was released Monday night, a sheriff’s spokeswoman said Tuesday. He was accused of one count of embezzlement and two counts of identity theft, both felonies. At his rural Eaton home Tuesday, Smith declined to comment about the accusations. According to an arrest affidavit from the Weld District Attorney’s Office, investigators identified 14 suspicious gasoline purchases between March 3 and Sept. 19 that totaled $392.40. The affidavit stated that each officer is assigned a personal identification number — the last four digits of the officer’s Social Security number — for the fuel cards. Smith is accused of tapping into the Colorado Crime Information Center to obtain driver’s license information on police officers, which included the Social Security numbers. The affidavit also stated the Platteville Police Department has a small fleet of police vehicles, which officers fuel at area gas stations and convenience stores. Each car is assigned a unique fuel card. According to the affidavit, after being confronted with the accusations, Smith told an investigator he violated department policy by taking patrol cars home. “He also stated he had used police department fuel cards to put gas into his personal vehicle,” the affidavit stated. “He stated he knew this was wrong. He stated he had permission to take a ‘gas allowance’ from two of the town board members.” Smith told the investigator he had been at the home of one of the board members for a party. “A discussion was held regarding the defendant not being paid what he and they believed he should be paid,” the affidavit stated. When Smith “mentioned a gas allowance would help, he was told by one of the town board members to go ahead and take such an allowance.” In the affidavit, Smith identified the town board trustees as Bonnie Dunston and Joe Rudd. Dunston told The Tribune she couldn’t comment about the case because it was under investigation. However, in the affidavit, she told an investigator she does not have the authority to approve such a request, and she would be opposed to an employee paying for personal gas with the town’s money. Rudd, who did not return phone calls from The Tribune seeking comment, told the investigator “he would not authorize such transactions, nor did he have the authority to do so,” the affidavit stated. Town Manager Troy Renken said Smith submitted a letter of resignation Nov. 9 and made his resignation effective Nov. 11. Renken said the town had just begun advertising the open police chief position, and the department’s sergeants and Renken — a former Platteville police chief — would handle the chief’s duties while the search for a replacement was conducted. “It will go for several weeks now and then a hiring committee will be formed to fill that position,” he said. Renken said he did not think the town needed to adjust what it pays the chief. “I think the salary is pretty competitive with other agencies our size,” he said. “I think all of us would like to make more money than we do.” NMILLER@GREELEYTRIBUNE.COM

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