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Six California police officers charged with fraud after they paid people to take college classes for them, prosecutors say

Kenneth Niemeyer   

Six California police officers charged with fraud after they paid people to take college classes for them, prosecutors say
  • Six police officers paid someone to take their college classes for them, according to the DOJ.
  • The officers are facing wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud charges.

Six police officers in California are facing fraud charges after the FBI says they paid someone to take their college classes for them.

A federal grand jury returned four indictments on August 17 against ten total police officers working for two police departments, according to the Department of Justice. The charges against the officers range from conspiracy, to fraud, to excessive force, the DOJ said in a statement.

In one of the indictments, prosecutors accused six officers — Morteza Amiri, Patrick Burhan, Brauli Jalapa, Ernesto Mejia-Orozco, Samantha Peterson, and Amanda Theodosy — of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Theodosy and Amiri were employed by the Antioch Police Department, the other officers were working for the Pittsburg, California, Police Department, according to the indictment.

If convicted, each charge comes with a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison.

According to the indictment, the officers were taking classes at a "distance learning institution" based in Santa Ana, California, to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice.

The indictment says the officers, starting in 2019, began taking the classes as part of a program where the police departments would pay for their education expenses and give them increased pay and benefits upon completing their degree.

Instead of taking the classes themselves, the officers paid someone else to submit their essays and take texts on their behalf, the document says. The indictment says the officers used Venmo to pay the person who was doing their coursework, which would amount to wire fraud.

Additionally, the grand jury indicted two Antioch officers — Daniel Harris and Devon Wenger —on charges of conspiring to distribute anabolic steroids, the DOJ said.

The Pittsburg Police Department and the Antioch Police Department did not immediately return Insider's requests for comment Sunday.

Insider could not identify lawyers for the officers.


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