Three Coral Springs Police Officers and former executive board members of the Coral Springs Police Union were charged with grand theft and organized scheme to defraud, according to the Broward County's State Attorney's Office.
The three cops allegedly used police union credit cards for unauthorized ATM cash withdrawals. They also used the credit cards at restaurants, bars, and stores.
Suspicions were aroused in January of 2012 when a new administration took over Coral Springs Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 87, and found figures that didn't add up on the lodge's tax returns.
The lodge consulted with its accountants and attorneys, and the board eventually hired a forensic accountant to investigate the books. That investigation turned up a trail of impropriety that led from January 2006 through December 2011 showing excessive ATM withdrawals, as well as unauthorized charges to grocery stores, bars and restaurants, including Chili's, Fogarty's and Bru's Room.
Officer Doug Williams, 56, turned himself into the Broward County Jail on Thursday. According to authorities, Williams allegedly used the police union credit card to pay for at least ten personal expenses, including a cash withdrawal of $300 and using the card to pay for a $400 purchase at Loews. He also used the card at Publix and Sears. Overall, Williams stole $1,584 from the card and is charged with one count of grand theft.
The second officer charged is Doug's wife, Sherry.
Sherry Williams, 48, is accused of spending well over $30,000, including a $400 chair she purchased for her father. Williams is charged with six counts of grand theft and one count of organized scheme to defraud.
Detective Michael Hughes, 42, is the third officer busted for using the credit card after authorities say he spent $10,000, which included grocery purchases, restaurants and cash withdrawals. Hughes is charged with four counts of grand theft and one count of organized scheme to defraud.
Doug and Sherry Williams tendered their resignations on Thursday. Hughes is suspended with pay pending a meeting with the city manager on the matter.
Coral Springs Police Department Lieutenant Joe McHugh said that the officers had easy access to union funds, which is what made it so easy for them.
"Members of the executive board, they have credit cards that they're able to go ahead and purchase stuff for the union or purchase stuff that, you know, like to go to lunch," McHugh said via WSVN.
"The community needs to know that these are allegations that will have their time in court. The most important thing is, their performance as police officers had nothing to do with these allegations. These allegations are as their positions as executive board members on our union," he added.
The Lodge, meanwhile, says that it has put measures in place to make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen again.
Current lodge president, Glenn Matonak, called the charges a betrayal of trust.
"In the law enforcement community, we consider ourselves brothers and sisters of our fellow co-workers, and to discover that our leaders were stealing money from us is such a huge betrayal of trust," Matonak said in a release.