Officer charged for stealing $25K from charity

Posted at 8:47 PM, May 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-16 20:48:45-04

An officer with the Richfield Police Department was charged with theft in office after he was accused of stealing more than $25,000 from his department's "Shop with a Cop" program.

The charge against Officer Michael Simmons, 41, of Stow, was filed in Akron Municipal Court on Monday afternoon.

Special agents with the Ohio Attorney General Bureau of Criminal Investigation began investigating Simmons in January at the request of the department's chief of police, who became aware of unauthorized financial transactions from Richfield's "Shop with a Cop" bank account.

"The 'Shop with a Cop' program helps kids bond with and trust police, but this defendant violated that trust on so many different levels," Attorney General Mike DeWine said. "Our investigation found that, for years, this officer not only deceived those who generously donated to this charity, but he also stole from the children whom this program was created to help. Many more kids could have benefited from this charity had this defendant not spent thousands of dollars in donations on himself."

According to officials, Simmons, who was the coordinator of the program, spent $26,709 in program funds on personal expenses from 2010 to 2016.  The spending included sporting event tickets, electronics, clothing, and tools. He also allegedly used gift cards purchased with program funds for his personal use.

Richfield's "Shop with a Cop" program helped financially disadvantaged families by taking children on a shopping trip with law enforcement each Christmas. 

A warrant was issued for Simmons on Monday afternoon.