By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR — Three veteran police officers gave in to temptation — “they did not fight their discipline,” Police Chief Mary Sclabassi said — and have been suspended for making illegal bets with public employees who last year were convicted of running a gambling ring.
Sclabassi said that she had ordered an internal investigation of the three officers — whose names were not released — after being contacted by the FBI, which last year concluded a year-long investigation into charges that a Flat Rock police officer and Trenton public works employee ran a betting operation while on duty.
In July Trenton Public Works employee Kevin Sargent pleaded guilty to charges of running a sports gambling operation while on company time. Sargent and Flat Rock Police Sgt. Charles Sanders Jr. were charged in January with 14 counts of racketeering and conducting illegal gambling operations.
Sanders pleaded guilty to misconduct in office. He was dismissed from the police and sentenced to probation.
Sclabassi was advised by federal agents that three Taylor police officers had placed bets with the two, information they’d uncovered but declined to press charges.
The FBI “provided me with information showing that our Taylor officers had placed bets with that Flat Rock officer,” Sclabassi said. Federal officials had not sought charges against the Taylor officers, and turned it over to Sclabassi for internal investigation.
Sclabassi confirmed that the three had placed bets on football games with Sanders. Sclabassi met with union officials, and suspended the officers. The three were notified of the penalty on April 22 and relieved of duty for an unspecified amount of time.
“Based on their involvement, they were suspended without pay,” Sclabassi said.
“I am not pleased that it came out that three of my officers had involvement in this case,” Sclabassi said. “It is an embarrassment to the department and to our profession. Our officers have to know that they are held to a higher standard and any conduct such as this is not going to be tolerated.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected].)