Fake theft report leads to former cop’s arrest

By Joe Johnson – (onlineathens.com)
Published Wednesday, December 02, 2009

PD frontA former Athens-Clarke police officer was arrested Tuesday on charges he wrote a fake theft report and used it to bilk a credit union last year, months before he was fired for an unrelated domestic dispute, Athens-Clarke police said.

Robert Lee Houston III, who was fired in January, wrote a fake report in September 2008 in which he claimed that checks had been stolen from him.

Houston, 45, used the report to persuade the credit union to reimburse him for $200 in overdraft fees – fees he said he incurred after money was stolen from his account, Athens-Clarke police Chief Jack Lumpkin said Tuesday.

Houston joined the police department in 2003 and was working downtown patrol when he was fired following a December 2008 arrest on charges he trespassed at a former girlfriend’s home and damaged property, Lumpkin said.

“In his last 30 days of employment, he demonstrated certain characteristics that were deemed to be unacceptable and he was terminated,” Lumpkin said of Houston.

Houston was arrested again by Athens-Clarke police May 16 on a DUI charge, which is still pending, and was booked into the Clarke County Jail on Tuesday morning on several felony charges stemming from the fake police report.

The Georgia Federal Credit Union discovered the forgery in July, and police assigned the case to the Financial Crimes Unit. A Clarke County Superior Court judge signed arrest warrants in August.

At the time, Houston’s attorney said Houston was out of state but he was arranging for the former officer to surrender, Lumpkin said Tuesday.

Houston never turned himself in, and deputies arrested him Tuesday morning in Athens-Clarke County Magistrate Court when he showed up for a hearing related to the domestic dispute charges, Lumpkin said.

The new warrants charge Houston with two counts of computer forgery and single counts of computer theft, first-degree forgery, violation of oath of office and false official writings – all felonies – and theft by deception, a misdemeanor.

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