Ex-Chandler cop hired by Pinal County

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MESA - A former Chandler police officer who was at the center of two wrongful death lawsuits that resulted in nearly $5 million in settlements has been hired by the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.

Dan Lovelace, who was acquitted in July 2004 of homicide and endangerment charges in connection with one of the incidents, graduated from Pinal County's detention officer academy last week.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and Lovelace served on Chandler's police force at the same time, but Babeu denies criticism that the hiring smacks of cronyism.

The 44-year-old Lovelace was with Chandler police from 1997 until his termination in November 2002. In that span, he was involved in two deadly incidents with the city paying $4.74 million to settle the lawsuits that arose from them.

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