Embezzlement case brought against ex-Park City police sergeant
May 17, 2013
The Utah Attorney General’s Office on Wednesday morning arrested a former Park City Police Department sergeant on charges that he embezzled upward of $65,000 over a five-year span from the department and two fraternal police organizations.
Robert Lucking, 50, faces five felony charges between three criminal cases brought against him on Tuesday. The charges include theft cases and a count of failing to keep or pay public money. In three of the four theft cases, prosecutors offer an alternative charge for consideration of unlawful dealing of property by fiduciary, also felonies.
The most serious counts are second-degree felonies, punishable by a prison sentence of between one and 15 years and a $10,000 fine upon conviction. In one of the cases, he is accused of stealing a handgun from the evidence room of the Police Department.
The Summit County Attorney’s Office said he was arrested at his place of work in Salt Lake. Bail was posted for Lucking’s release later on Wednesday. The Summit County Sheriff’s Office did not release information about the person who posted bail. A statement from the Summit County Attorney’s Office said bail on the individual cases was set at either $5,000 or $10,000, cash only.
He is scheduled to make his first appearance in Third District Court at Silver Summit on Monday. Greg Skordas, a Salt Lake City attorney who is representing Lucking, said Friday he had not seen evidence in the case and declined to comment.
Lucking retired from the Police Department in late 2012 amid the investigation into the missing money. He was hired in 2002 and promoted to sergeant in 2006.
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"It’s always disheartening to see members of the law enforcement profession charged with crimes of dishonesty because we put so much trust in them," said Matthew Bates, the Summit County prosecutor who filed the charges against Lucking.
Bates said the Lucking is accused of embezzling money from the Park City lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Layton and the Park City Police Department itself.
Most of the money — approximately $60,000 — was taken from the Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Park City, Bates said. The money was taken between 2007 and 2012, he said. Lucking once was the president of the Park City lodge. The Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Park City is best known for its annual Shop With a Cop holiday program for underprivileged children.
The Summit County Attorney’s Office said in its statement that Lucking "became the target of several embezzlement-related criminal investigations after a routine audit conducted by the Park City Police Department."
The Police Department determined that crimes may have been committed and referred the probe to the attorney general, the statement said.
Police Chief Wade Carpenter said he is disappointed.
"There’s a level of professionalism and trust that’s expected by the community," he said.
Carpenter said the Police Department immediately addressed the issues raised in the cases against Lucking by contacting an outside law enforcement agency to investigate.
The charging document in the case involving the money from the Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Park City is especially notable. It says that past presidents of the lodge had not needed a debit card linked to the group’s bank account. Lucking, though, had one issued to himself and another member of the lodge’s leadership team, according to the charging document.
The prosecutor claims Lucking regularly used the bank card to take money out of the account between 2007 and 2012. The annual total reached to $17,450 in 2010, the charging document says. In many cases, $500 was taken out using automatic-teller machines in the area, but in others the money was used in restaurants and at gas stations, the prosecutors say. The charging document claims Lucking took lodge money out of cash machines in places like Las Vegas, Minnesota, St. Louis and Hawaii.
Other officers who held leadership positions in the lodge indicated "there were no legitimate Lodge-associated expenses between 2007 and 2012 that would justify such large regular cash withdrawals," the charging document says.