Warrant issued for Richfield officer in ‘Shop With A Cop’ fraud

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(Fox 8 file photo)

RICHFIELD, Ohio– A warrant was issued for a Richfield police officer in connection with a fraud investigation into “Shop With A Cop.”

Michael Simmons, 41, of Stow, is wanted for theft in office, Mayor Bobbi Beshara told the FOX 8 I-Team on Monday. He is currently on paid administrative leave.

In January, the Richfield Police Department asked the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to check out the village’s “Shop With A Cop.” Police Chief Keith Morgan reported possible financial discrepancies, while the two signers on the “Shop With A Cop” bank accounts are Richfield officers.

According to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Simmons spent more than $26,000 between 2011 to 2016 on sports tickets, electronics, tools and clothing.

“The ‘Shop with a Cop’ program helps kids bond with and trust police, but this defendant violated that trust on so many different levels,” Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a news release on Monday. “Our investigation found that, for years, this officer not only deceived those who generously donated to this charity, but he also stole from the children whom this program was created to help. Many more kids could have benefited from this charity had this defendant not spent thousands of dollars in donations on himself.”

The second officer under investigation was cleared, Beshara said.

The program is sponsored by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #66 and provides Christmas gifts for children in needy.