Ex-Park City sergeant pleads guilty in embezzlement case
A former Park City Police Department sergeant on Monday pleaded guilty to two felony charges stemming from a wide-ranging embezzlement case.
Robert Lucking, 50, pleaded guilty to a count of theft, a second-degree felony, and a count of failing to keep, pay public money, which is a third-degree felony. A second-degree felony carries a maximum sentence of between one and 15 years in state prison while a third-degree felony carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.
Prosecutors dismissed another case against Lucking as part of the plea agreement.
"This was a sad case. Bob Lucking was a law enforcement officer who was greatly respected by his department. It was tragic," County Attorney David Brickey said. "It proves that no one is above the law."
Brickey said Lucking agreed to pay $50,000 in restitution to the Park City lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police as part of the plea agreement.
The Park Record was unable to immediately contact Lucking’s attorney.
The theft charge stemmed from Lucking’s time leading the Park City lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, an organization best known for organizing the annual Shop With a Cop program for underprivileged children. Prosecutors have said most of the money that was taken was from the Fraternal Order of Police.
The charge of failing to keep, pay public money was related to Lucking’s time overseeing the Police Department’s evidence room.
Brickey said he will ask the judge to sentence Lucking to jail rather than prison. He was unsure on Tuesday how much jail time he will request for Lucking. Sentencing is scheduled Dec. 16. Lucking is free on bail as he awaits sentencing.
Lucking was a sergeant when he retired in late 2012 amid the investigation. The Police Department said Lucking was in good standing within the department until the case unfolded. He was hired by the Police Department in 2002 and promoted to sergeant in 2006.
"I’m deeply disappointed in the fact this occurred," Police Chief Wade Carpenter said on Tuesday about Lucking’s actions, describing what he sees as a "personal character flaw" in Lucking.
In a charging document filed in May, prosecutors said Lucking beginning in 2007 used a Fraternal Order of Police bank card to take out money from the organization’s account. The prosecutors said up to $17,450 was taken out of the account in a year, including through cash machine withdrawals of $500.
The charging document said Lucking used cash machines in places like Hawaii and Las Vegas, adding that "there were no legitimate Lodge-associated expenses between 2007 and 2012 that would justify such large regular cash withdrawals."
Prosecutors claimed Lucking embezzled upward of $65,000 between two fraternal police organizations and the Police Department itself. Most of the money — approximately $60,000 — was taken from the Fraternal Order of Police in Park City, prosecutors have said.
Matthew Bates, who prosecuted the case for the Summit County Attorney’s Office, said the $50,000 in restitution is a lower figure than the lost $65,000 because Lucking paid back between $5,000 and $6,000 prior to being charged. There was also an additional undocumented amount of money that Lucking could have paid back previously, he said.
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Deputies found Baird’s vehicle at a trailhead in the Sawtooth National Forest about 20 miles northwest of Ketchum.