By TEREASA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers
RIVERVIEW – After more than a year of resident complaints about a former police officer allegedly milking the city for more than $1 million and city officials reportedly turning a blind eye, the Michigan State Police are investigating.
The former officer retired as a detective specializing in financial crimes and identity theft, from the Police Department on Dec. 13, 2013 with duty disability. Yet, he continued to work under the guise of the department from Jan. 1, 2014 to July 3, 2014 conducting 1,125 salvage vehicle inspections while collecting disability, City Councilman Bill Towle said.
Before becoming a councilor, Towle repeatedly went before the council asking them why this officer was able to work and collect disability. Yet, Towle didn’t get answers. Sometimes he was just met with rolled eyes.
The officer left Riverview and went to work in Southgate while still collecting duty disability worker’s compensation from Riverview, Towle said. In Southgate, he conducted 720 salvage vehicle inspections from July 2014 to October 2014, earning $64,890. It doesn’t appear this money was reported to the city under his earnings.
The officer was decertified by the state of Michigan in October 2014; however, he earned $64,890 for the three-month stint.
In April, Towle sent the items complete with his allegations and several Freedom of Information Act requests to the MSP. After ensuring they received them, Towle was met with an email saying MSP couldn’t talk about it.
“I can’t comment on this at the time being, because it is an open investigation,” said Elizabeth Weier of the MSP Office of Investigative Services, according to Towle. “Understand, the information you’ve provided to us has been treated with the utmost priority.”
Weier said the Michigan Vehicle Code is clear about how salvage vehicle inspection fees are collected, saying they need to be credited to the agency’s budget. The fees are used for purposes that affect stolen vehicles, stolen vehicle parts and salvage vehicle inspections. The agency compensates the off-duty or limited enforcement officer for the inspections.
Those permitted to conduct a salvage vehicle inspection are on-duty or off-duty officers. Those not permitted include those who cease to function as a police officer due to suspension, retirement, dismissal, disability or termination of employment.
(Tereasa Nims can be reached at [email protected].)