|Police Officer Michael Simmons|
(Scroll down for video) A police officer who was the coordinator of the “Shop With A Cop” program, stole thousands of dollars that was meant to go for children and used the cash for his personal expenses, according to police in Ohio.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that the former police officer must repay thousands of dollars that he stole from the Richfield Police Department's "Shop With a Cop" program.
During a sentencing hearing, Summit County Common Pleas Judge Alison McCarty sentenced former Richfield Police Officer Michael Simmons, 42, of Stow, to repay $15,000 that he stole from the program.
Simmons, who also received an 18-month suspended sentence and two years of probation, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of grand theft.
Special agents with Attorney General DeWine's Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) began investigating Simmons, at the request of Richfield Police Chief Keith Morgan, who became aware of the unauthorized financial transactions.
BCI agents found that Simmons, who was the coordinator of the program that took children on shopping trips with law enforcement each year, improperly spent thousands of dollars in donations on personal expenses.
The improper spending included purchases of sporting event tickets, electronics, clothing, and tools. He also allegedly used gift cards purchased with program funds for his personal use.
According to the Richfield Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #66, the $15,000 will all be distributed to charities that benefit children in Summit County, as was originally intended when the money was collected.
All additional funds that were left over in Richfield's "Shop With a Cop" bank account will also be donated to five local charities to provide goods and services to kids.
Those charities are: Toys for Tots, Ronald McDonald House, Battered Women's Shelter of Summit and Medina Counties, WQMX Tree of Lights/Haven of Rest, and the Community Health Center Adolescent Program.
As part of a plea agreement negotiated by Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh, Simmons must repay the entire $15,000 or the suspended prison sentence will be imposed.
As a result of his conviction, Simmons' peace officer certification was also permanently revoked.