CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio Feb 2 2017-- A former Cleveland Heights police officer pleaded guilty Monday to stealing thousands of dollars in impound fees meant for the city.
Lamont Darden pleaded guilty to tampering with records and theft in office, third- and fourth-degree felonies, and agreed to give up his police officer certification.
Darden was set to begin trial Tuesday in Judge Kathleen Sutula's courtroom on dozens of charges stemming from the thefts. In a deal with Cuyahoga County prosecutors, Darden agreed to give up his Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy certificate.
Darden stole about $3,000 from Cleveland Heights between May 10 and July 28, according to the 37-count indictment.
He covered up the the theft by tampering with the records Cleveland Heights uses to record when people pay for their cars to get released from the city's impound lot, according to court records.
Darden worked the nightshift at the time of the thefts, prosecutors said. He told residents that they had to pay cash in order to get their cars released from the lot.
He'd write them receipts, but never turned in the city's copy, prosecutors said. Instead, he pocketed the cash.
Cleveland Heights police launched an internal investigation after an officer from a different city made a traffic stop. The officer's records said the driver's car should have been in Cleveland Heights' impound lot.
The driver showed the officer the receipt for getting the car out of impound and the officer alerted Cleveland Heights police, prosecutors said.