Call it a thin blue crime or an alternative pension plan.
The Orange County district attorney’s office announced yesterday that ex-Huntington Beach police detective Mario Ricci pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor county of petty theft for stealing money from a coworker’s retirement gift. In the week between Dec. 8 and Dec. 15, 2o16, Ricci pocketed cash from an envelope at department headquarters that fellow officers left donations in for their outgoing colleague.
The first day of Ricci’s petty thievery, other Huntington Beach officers noticed that money was missing from the donation envelope. According to the OCDA, the department began an internal investigation, documenting the serial numbers and denominations on the remaining bills in the envelope. Officers stopped Ricci before he attempted to leave headquarters on Dec. 15. That’s when they caught him red handed with bills documented from the envelope.
It doesn’t appear Ricci, a 49-year-old Los Angeles resident, needed the money. According to Transparent California, he made roughly $196,000 in total pay and benefits in 2016.
Either way, Huntington Beach police chief Rob Handy released a statement regarding yesterday’s conviction. He noted that the OCDA’s office was tapped for assistance in the matter leading to the criminal theft charge. The department concluded its own administrative investigation last May, resulting in the end of Ricci’s employment.
“Although we are saddened by this incident, I am confident the actions of this one person are not reflective of the 350 men and women who proudly serve our community on behalf of the police department each and every day,” said Handy. “The Huntington Beach Police Department strives for full trust and confidence of the community we serve, and we hold all our employees to a high standard of ethics and integrity.”
Ricci was sentenced to 240 hours of community service and a year of informal probation.