Former Tempe police officer sentenced in theft case

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
Aaron Smith By Jennifer Thomas Aaron Smith By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- A former Tempe police officer who pleaded guilty to one count of theft was sentenced Friday morning.

Per a plea agreement, Aaron Smith was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years of probation.

Smith was arrested last year after several items of police property went missing and money was taken from a lockbox. Many of the items were found in his possession.

Police said Smith admitted to the crimes, explaining that he had been in very bad financial shape.

During the sentencing hearing Smith's attorney explained that his client was motivated by desperation to steal.

He said Smith was injured on the job and his benefits ran out before he could return to work. That created an extreme financial hardship.

"I asked for help. I pled with them. I cried on them asking for help. Nobody would help me," Smith told judge Friday.

"From the time the incident took place not a day goes by, not a minute, not a second goes by before the guilt overcomes me that I did something wrong. I took full responsibility for it,"  explained Smith.

"I'm sorry for what I have done," he said.

Smith had been with the Tempe Police Department for seven and a half years. He resigned from his position following his arrest.