Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Houston police union rolling in cash, but six-figure thefts went unnoticed for years

In August, Grits criticized a phony-baloney charity called the Texas Highway Patrol Association for misrepresenting themselves in phone solicitations they claimed would raise money for the families of dead troopers, but which mostly go toward fundraising costs and into charity organizers' pockets. Now we get word that a Houston police officer was convicted last week of stealing $656,000 from the Houston Police Officers Union, including $400,000 from a phone solicitation arrangement similar to the THPA and another quarter million from the union's PAC. Reported the Houston Chronicle:
Testimony showed [Matthew] Calley stole more than $400,000 from an account dedicated to helping officers in dire financial straits and providing scholarships. It was funded by telephone solicitations of citizens and businesses.

The rest of the money Calley took was from the group's political action committee's account. Speaking to Calley, state District Judge Michael McSpadden said the 20-year sentence was because of the amount taken and "the betrayal of trust."

Calley faced punishment ranging from probation to life in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree felony theft in excess of $200,000 and misapplication of fiduciary funds.
Remarkably, this isn't the only such recent case involving Houston police union officials, reported the Chron:
Former Houston police officer Ronald L. Martin, 55, was sentenced to 10 years probation and restitution of $40,000 after pleading guilty in February to theft by a public servant.

Martin and his former son-in-law Jeffrey Larson, 43, both union officials, were indicted in 2008 on felony charges of misapplication of fiduciary property, accused of allowing between $100,000 and $200,000 to be stolen from the union.

Larson's case is pending trial.
Amazingly, union officials downplayed the impact of so much money being stolen:
Gary Blankinship, the union's president, said emergency union funds were not affected because the money was stolen gradually and not in one large amount.

"We've always had money in that account,'' Blankinship said. "Realize this went on for years and years to reach that amount. ... We were always able to meet obligations."

Blankinship said the thefts could have affected the number of scholarships awarded to children of police officers, but added they stayed "fairly consistent" over the years the theft occurred.
For union offiicials not to have noticed so much money missing from their charity and PAC tells this writer two things: 1) The union is rolling in cash, and 2) there's no meaningful oversight of how union funds are spent.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Grits, dude, it's a union. What do you expect?

BarkGrowlBite said...

This is typical of unions, just like Anon said.

B├╝nzli said...

So, an employee of a union steals from said union and gets an extra harsh sentence because of the "betrayal of trust."
But some douchebag cop misbehaves and suddenly the fact that he/she is in a position of trust becomes a reason for leniency.
I call bullshit!

Anonymous said...

Someone is lying.

"Prosecutors laid out that the Houston Police Officer's Union was going through incredible financial strains at the time the accounts were being raided by a thief. Testimony showed the union had to cash in a $150,000 certificate just to pay bills as the money was vanishing."

http://www.click2houston.com/news/29281967/detail.html

Perhaps there are more serious problems with the finances at HPOU and Blankinship is trying to hide it...

Calley's two brothers, also HPD officers, were in court dressed in their uniforms during sentencing. Both whined about how their brother was under stress because if his job, and that made him commit the thefts. Sickening.