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Three Phoenix Police Officers and One Former Officer Indicted for Theft

(Phoenix, Ariz. - Nov. 18, 2010) Attorney General Terry Goddard today announced the indictment of three Phoenix Police Officers and a former member of the Phoenix Police Department on felony charges related to money they received for off-duty security work they allegedly did not perform. 

Former Phoenix Officer George Emil Contreras, 45, was indicted on four felony counts that include fraud, illegal control of an enterprise and theft, for actions he took during his employment with the department performing off-duty security services for multiple clients. 

Also indicted on theft charges related to off-duty work they were hired to perform were three current members of the Phoenix Police Department: Sgt. Benjamin Hugh Sywarungsymun, 35, Officer Steven Paul Peck, 40, and Officer Aaron J. Lentz, 30.

Contreras was a Phoenix Police Officer for 18 years before he resigned in 2008. While employed by the department, he also served as an off-duty work coordinator, out of the South Mountain Precinct, for off-duty jobs for the alleged business victims: the Cotton Center Townhomes at 48th Street and Broadway, Laron Incorporated, Arizona Materials, and Eisenberg Properties, all in Phoenix.

The indictment alleges that from December 2005 through December 2007, Contreras committed fraud and theft on the businesses by submitting false documents to them in the form of invoices in advance of the work to be performed and accepting pay for the full hours of work indicated in the invoices, even though he did not work the full hours for which he was paid. Contreras is alleged to also have formed and used a business called Raptor Services to invoice and collect payment from the victim businesses. Sgt. Sywarungsymun, Officer Peck, and Officer Lentz are also alleged to have committed theft by accepting pay for hours of off-duty security which they did not perform, as coordinated by Contreras. 

The alleged business victim that suffered the largest loss was the Cotton Center Townhomes, which involved a security job contracted with the Phoenix Police Department by three homeowners associations to help reduce crime in an area with a high volume of calls for police service, requiring two officers and a marked patrol car.

Contreras, as the coordinator, assigned a large majority of shifts to himself, as well as the other officers listed in the indictment. Contreras is alleged to have committed thefts in excess of $9,000, Lentz in excess of $2,000, Sywarungsymun in excess of $1,800, and Peck in excess of $1,700, all felony level thefts. Total losses alleged in the indictment are in excess of $16,000.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Todd Lawson and was investigated by Special Agents in the Special Investigations Section of the Attorney General’s Office.  

A copy of the indictment of the four defendants is attached. For more information, contact Steve Wilson at (602) 542-8351.

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