Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tempe police detective accused of stealing evidence

Tempe police arrested one of their own Tuesday, an 11-year veteran accused of stealing lucrative items from the evidence locker, taking money to remodel a woman's kitchen and abandoning the job and driving with a suspended license.

Police Detective Elliot Campbell resigned his position Tuesday after being arrested on suspicion of two counts of theft of a credit card, 10 counts of tampering with evidence, one count each of forgery, burglary and theft, police said.

The alleged crimes came to light in April, when Tempe police learned that the Maricopa County Attorney's Office had charged Campbell with operating without a contractor's license in connection to a Scottsdale woman's kitchen renovation, said Tempe police Sgt. Steve Carbajal.

Campbell had begun the demolition phase of the kitchen but didn't complete it, prompting the woman to complain to the Arizona Registrar of Contractors, Carbajal said. The county attorney is also investigating whether Campbell wrote bad checks, Cabajal said.

Tempe investigators began looking into Campbell's work and found his driver's license had been suspended after failing to appear for a radar citation he received in Mesa. Campbell was placed on administrative leave on April 6, and as the investigation continued, was put on unpaid leave on April 22.

Investigators discovered that Campbell had been taking evidence items from the Tempe Police Property Facility, saying he was returning them to their owners, Carbajal said.

The items included Costco and Target gift cards, which were used near Campbell's Gilbert residence, police said.

A search of Campbell's Gilbert residence uncovered a refrigerator, a watch and tools he also checked out of the evidence room, Carbajal said.

Campbell was placed under arrest at 10:50 a.m. Tuesday and was transferred to a Maricopa County jail.

Police said Campbell, who worked alone, admitted checking the items out of the evidence facility, using the gift cards and taking the refrigerator to his house for his own use. He said he gave a washer he had taken to an acquaintance.

The criminal and parallel internal investigations are ongoing. After speaking with investigators, Campbell resigned from his position Tuesday afternoon, police said.

He has been arrested and booked, and is awaiting formal charges and his initial appearance, police said.

"This circumstance is most unfortunate for the Tempe Police Department and the law enforcement community," said Tempe Police Chief Tom Ryff. "We are committed to the highest standards and will ensure that in partnership with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, that Mr. Campbell is held accountable both criminally and administratively for his violation of public trust.

"This misconduct is certainly not consistent with the professional standards and practices demonstrated by Tempe police employees on a daily basis. As law enforcement employees, trust and accountability are of paramount importance."

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