How does an Albuquerque cop who was about to be fired, accused of stealing thousands of dollars on the job, end up with another job in law enforcement? He’s working as a fraud investigator for the state’s tax and revenue department.
“He was claiming a substantial amount of overtime and there was no corroborating documents that the overtime this Sgt. was working,” says Thomas Grover.
Grover is an attorney for a current officer with Albuquerque Police Department. His client blew the whistle on a fellow officer in 2016 for logging hours he never worked. It was a lot of hours.
“It was 10 hours a week for weeks on end. So it accumulated into the thousands of dollars range,” he says.
That officer is former APD Sergeant, James Geha.
APD says the claims against Geha were true. In late 2016, then-Police Chief, Gorden Eden, recommended firing Geha.
However, Geha resigned first. In his resignation letter, he maintains he earned every cent and just can’t prove he was working.
“That clearly was very problematic,” says Grover.
State Police investigated and found Geha had 349 hours of overtime in which he didn’t work, padding his paychecks by more than $15,000 in one year.
In June 2016, State Police say they sent their findings to then-DA, Kari Brandenburg’s office, for possible charges.
But nothing was done. Then last September, Geha got a new job with the state’s Tax and Rev. Department as a special agent in their fraud division.
“It’s just unpalatable that an officer, who is the subject and target of a fraud investigation, could actually continue in law enforcement under that cloud of suspicion,” says Grover.
The Tax and Rev. Fraud Division Director who hired Gah says all three of his references were high ranking officers within APD. She says he got rave reviews.
“There was just high kudos from all 3 people that I spoke to. What a great job he did. What a great employee he was. No one ever indicated that there were ever any type of issues,” says Lilia Ruiz.
Ruiz admits she never knew about Geha’s past until News 13 called about it.
“It’s hard to say at that time, had we known about this specific situation. I can’t say yes or no, but most likely not,” she says.
Geha was just put on paid leave this afternoon. A spokesperson with Tax and Rev. says Geha’s job depends on the outcome of the criminal case.
We called the office of DA Raul Torrez, which has had the case for more than a year and a half now. His office wouldn’t comment on what’s going on with the case.
When police officers are accused of wrongdoing and it’s substantiated, it’s supposed to be reported to the state law enforcement board to see if his police license should be suspended or revoked.
Gorden Eden’s APD former chief never did that. The State Police chief will do that now.