Loudoun Sheriff Deputy Frank Pearson Swiped Over $229,000 Before Money Was Noticed Missing; Sentenced to Three Years in Prison
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Frank Michael Pearson, 45, a former Loudon County Sheriff’s Deputy from Winchester, was sentenced on June 17, 2016, to 36 months in prison for embezzling $229,381.01 from the asset forfeiture fund at the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office. Pearson was also ordered to pay $229,381.01 in restitution to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and complete three years of supervised release after he is released from prison.
Pearson was found guilty after a bench trial on March 31, 2016. According to court documents, court records and evidence presented at trial, beginning in 2006 Pearson was designated as the deputy responsible for overseeing the asset forfeiture program for the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office. The evidence presented at trial showed that beginning in or about February 2010, and continuing through October 2013, Pearson engaged in a scheme to embezzle and steal money that had been seized by other members of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office for potential asset forfeiture. The evidence showed that Pearson embezzled money from 80 separate cases over this period, taking in excess of $229,000 that had been entrusted to him.
The evidence further proved that Pearson concealed his embezzlement scheme by making false statements to his coworkers and others about the timing and fact of whether he had deposited seized money into an escrow account maintained by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office at a local bank. For example, the evidence showed that on two separate occasions, Pearson re-used an old deposit slip from an unrelated case and passed it off as a new deposit slip to conceal the fact that he had not deposited all of the money entrusted to him. The evidence further showed that in at least one instance, Pearson took money seized in one case and passed it off as money that had been seized in another case, to hide his ongoing embezzlement. Financial records admitted at trial also showed that Pearson increased his personal cash deposits and cash spending during the more than the three-year period of the embezzlement scheme.
The evidence also proved that late on the evening of Oct. 30, 2013, and in the early morning hours of Oct. 31, 2013, after being confronted by his supervisor about the location of missing money that had been entrusted to him, Pearson removed several boxes of money from the narcotics office where he worked, and never returned to work again.
Pearson attempted to claim memory loss was the reason the money was missing.
“Notably,” prosecutors wrote, “this alleged amnesia arose one day after the defendant’s supervisor learned that approximately $34,000 that had been entrusted to the defendant could not be found, approximately twelve hours after one of the defendant’s co-workers witnessed the defendant removing boxes of money from his office in the dead of night, and on the same day that the defendant was scheduled to travel to a bank with his supervisor to clear up any questions about the missing $34,000.”
Forbes, in an article entitled POLICING FOR PROFIT, reported on other cases of police becoming criminals themselves and stealing assets seized from accused criminals.
“The same day Pearson was convicted, an Oklahoma grand jury indicted Wagoner County Sheriff Bob Colbert and Deputy Jeff Gragg on three felony counts, including bribery and extortion. Back in December 2014, Gragg pulled over Torell Wallace and a 17-year-old passenger. During the traffic stop, the deputy reportedly searched the car and found $10,000 in cash. Gragg arrested both individuals for “possession of drug proceeds,” a felony.
“After being taken to the Wagoner County Jail, Colbert and Gragg accepted a bribe from Wallace and the passenger when Wallace disclaimed any interest in the cash,” the state’s attorney general alleged in a release. Both Wallace and the minor were released, while “the cash was placed in a Sheriff’s Drug Forfeiture account.”
Colbert and Gragg could each face up to 25 years in prison and fines as high as $10,000 if convicted. The sheriff has already been suspended from his duties. As The Oklahoman summarized it, Colbert’s attorney defended the traffic stop as “a routine drug interdiction and a lawful cash seizure of drug funds.”