Officer in charge of 'Shop with a Cop' accused of stealing $26,709 from program

Officer in charge of 'Shop with a Cop' accused of stealing $26,709 from program

RICHFIELD, OH (WOIO) - An officer from the Richfield Police Department has been charged with stealing money while he was in charge of their "Shop with a Cop" program.

Michael Simmons, 41, of Stow, was charged in with theft in Akron Municipal Court Monday and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Simmons is accused of stealing more than $25,000.

The Ohio Attorney General's Office began investigating in January after being tipped off by the chief of police. The chief became suspicious after noticing several unauthorized financial transactions from the "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," said Attorney General DeWine. "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."

Investigators say Simmons, who was the coordinator of the program, improperly spent $26,709 in program funds on personal expenses from 2010 to 2016. The improper 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 helps financially disadvantaged families by taking children on a shopping trip with law enforcement each Christmas.

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