WATCH: California Officer Arrested After Stealing $100K in Public Funds

Officer Robert Longdon

California – A Simi Valley police officer was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of stealing more than $100,000 in public funds by allegedly lying on his time sheet about overtime.

Officer Robert Longdon, 44, turned himself in to authorities at the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office and was subsequently arrested then booked into jail, said Simi Valley Police Chief David Livingstone.

Longdon is accused of putting in for overtime hours that he did not actually work. That includes “padding his reported hours” and falsely claiming to have worked 61 10-hour shifts, said Senior Deputy District Attorney Thomas Frye.

“He just did not show up to work. That’s what the allegation is,” Frye said.

Longdon was charged in connection with allegedly engaging in this fraudulent behavior from March 2014 to September 2017. The DA’s Office has charged Longdon with four counts of felony grand theft and one count of felony attempted grand theft stemming from that time period.

He faces a maximum county jail term of five years and four months, prosecutors said.

Livingstone called the arrest of the 10-year department veteran “embarrassing.”

“No chief of police or no police officer wants to be in the position I’m in right now. We’re being transparent about it, we’re communicating about it and we’re letting the due process of the law take its course,” Livingstone said.

Longdon’s defense attorney, Bill Hadden, did not comment on the charges Tuesday, saying he had not seen any of the evidence from the prosecution.

“We haven’t seen a shred of paperwork on the defense side. … It’s hard for me to comment when I haven’t seen any of it,” Hadden said.

Hadden said it will probably be some time before the paperwork gets to him because as far as he understands there is a lot of it. He spoke with Frye, the prosecutor, and he is working on putting a package together.

In the meantime, Hadden said, “we’ll enter a plea of not guilty on the date of the arraignment and go from there.”

Simi Valley police said they uncovered the alleged problem in August after noticing a discrepancy on Longdon’s time sheets. They looked into his previous time sheets and found it did not appear to be a mistake but an alleged pattern, Livingstone said. They then asked the DA’s Office to further investigate the matter. By September, Longdon was placed on paid administrative leave, Livingstone said.

An internal audit of all time sheets was completed as a result of the discovery, and Livingstone said he is “convinced” Longdon was the only person involved in this alleged behavior and he acted alone.

However, the police chief alleged the suspected theft went back further than 2014. Frye did not comment on the allegation but said “the charges that we have filed are filed within the four-year statute of limitations.”

“Over the course of Longdon’s employment, the total estimated loss to the city of Simi Valley was $102,138,” the DA’s Office said in a news release.

Longdon was hired by Simi Valley Police Department on Feb. 20, 2008, as a lateral officer from the Los Angeles Police Department, Livingstone said. He was named Simi Valley officer of the year for 2012.

When he was awarded the honor in 2013, The Star reported Longdon was a six-year Army veteran. He previously worked in the department as a patrol officer, with the bicycle team and in the honor guard.

He was working as a school resource officer when a manager found the alleged problem on his time sheet, Livingstone said.

The police chief said an “antiquated paper system” and lack of oversight were part of the issue.

A watch commander uncovered the suspected theft while going through paper time sheets, which are still being used in the department. Livingstone said the commander was carefully “scrutinizing” them because Livingstone had made it a priority to reduce and monitor overtime once he was appointed chief in March 2017.

The watch commander noticed that Longdon had put in for a specific day of work but the commander did not remember seeing him that day, Livingstone said.

In the past, Livingstone said, overtime was done on “the honor system,” which he acknowledged is a “fallible system.”

“This officer took advantage of that system, and it’s even more problematic because in a police department, you would think that something like the honor system would effectively work,” Livingstone said.

The department is in the process of transitioning to digital time sheets — a move that should go into effect sometime next year — but in the meantime, the police chief instructed all overtime to be pre-approved and post-approved by a supervisor.

“The extra careful scrutiny caught this and I’m glad they did,” Livingstone said.

Longdon was booked into county jail in lieu of a $20,000 bond, then posted bail and was released from the facility. His arraignment is scheduled for March 20 in Ventura County Superior Court, jail records show.