Money trail revealed in Phoenix police off-duty work scheme

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by Catherine Holland and Tess Rafols

Bio | Email | Follow: @Tess3TV

azfamily.com

Posted on November 23, 2010 at 7:19 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 23 at 9:17 PM

PHOENIX -- We're learning more about the investigation into a scheme in which several officers were allegedly getting paid for security work that was never performed.

Hundreds of pages of documents from the Arizona Attorney General's Office reveal some interesting information about the security company at the heart of the investigation, Raptor Services.

The company was set up by a former police officer. George Contreras served as an off-duty coordinator for Phoenix police officers through Raptor Services. Contreras also owns a Phoenix store called Raptor Guitars.

While Raptor Guitars is supposedly separate from Raptor Services, documents show that more than $50,000 was transferred from Raptors Services to Raptors Guitars over the course of several months.

Documents obtained by 3TV show that Contreras took payments from companies for security services before those services were provided. He then told the companies that he would be responsible for paying the officers.

Investigators believe that in some cases, Contreras and other officers were getting paid for work they never did. At the same time, other officers who did do the contracted work complained about bounced checks and delayed payments from Raptor Services.

Contreras is documented as the sole controller of the business bank account for Raptor Services, which opened in January 2005.

For the next two years, checks from various companies were deposited into the Raptor Services bank account. While there were outgoing checks to officers for off-duty services, investigators are now questioning many other payments made from the account.

In addition to thousands of dollars in credit-card payments to American Express and Washington Mutual, there were also frequent withdrawls ranging from $200 to $2,000. There were also several personal purchases, including airfare, jewelry, clothing, groceries, haircuts, Celebrity Cruise charges and a purchase from the Arizona Cardinals for more than $2,200.

Documents show that several checks drawn on the Raptor Services bank account do not seem to have anything to do with the security services the company is supposed to provide. There are allegedly checks for $4,300 in retail services.

In addition, $6,900 went to an entertainment company for stage setup. Contreras performs in a band. There also are checks to Capital One Bank for nearly $4,000 and one to Wells Fargo for more than $2,500.

Contreras had been with the Phoenix Police Department for nearly 20 years when he resigned in 2008.

He now faces charges of felony theft, illegal control of an enterprise and fraud.

Three other officers, all of them currently employed by the Phoenix Police Department, have already been indicted in connection with the alleged off-duty work scheme, and more than two dozen others are under investigation.

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