A Fullerton police officer has been charged with stealing around $24,000 from a financial lender and a wholesale automobile buyer after failing to repay a loan and fraudulently selling his truck, which was collateral for the unpaid loan.
On the bright side, no homeless person was beaten to death in the making of this alleged crime. But you may recall 32-year-old Officer Hugo Garcia as one of two Fullerton cops fired upon in 2008 by a newly minted Wicked Minds gang member (also named Hugo).
Garcia has also been decorated for bravery (alongside ex-Cpl. Jay Cicinelli) and been the subject of positive press for giving a kid who'd had a gift card stolen $25 out of his own pocket.
But now he is accused of taking out a loan in October 2012 for approximately $12,000 from a financial lender using his Chevrolet Tahoe as collateral and only making the first two payments, according to an Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) statement.
A month later, Garcia advertised his Tahoe for sale on craigslist–despite the financial lender having a security interest in the car–and then sold the truck to a wholesale buyer for $12,000 cash, the OCDA claims.
The buyer was unaware that the Tahoe was being used as collateral for the loan and really surprised to learn the truck was repossessed from someone who bought it from the wholesaler because Garcia allegedly failed to make his loan payments. The OCDA reports the wholesaler re-paid the truck buyer, losing both the Tahoe and his $12,000 payment.
The wholesaler reported the case to the Fullerton Police Department last October, and results of the investigation were forwarded in January to the OCDA, which stresses Garcia was off-duty and not acting in his official capacity as a police officer at the time of the crime.
He is charged with one felony count of grand theft by false pretense and one felony count of embezzlement by debtor of security agreement. If convicted, he faces up to three years in jail. His arraignment is scheduled for March 14. Hurry, someone get John Barnett on the phone; this one will be a layup for the defense attorney who has gotten far worse cops off for far worse crimes.
For those keeping score at home:
OCDA Charges Former Fullerton Police Officer with Destroying Evidence
Ex-Cop's Sad Saga Points to Problems with Pill Popping Police . . . and Fullerton PD?
Kelly Janeth Mejia, Fullerton Cop, Placed on Paid Leave for Alleged Theft of iPad in Miami
Kelly Thomas' “Army” To Fullerton PD: We Will Not Forget Your Savage Brutality
Fullerton's ever-vigilant bloggers probably have some more cases I'm forgetting.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.