Radtke Pleads Guilty To 3 Misdemeanors, Agrees Not To Work For Pima County Again

Chris Radtke

Former Pima County Chief Deputy Chris Radtke, age 55, of Tucson, AZ, pleaded guilty Friday morning to three misdemeanor counts of theft of public money. U.S. Magistrate Judge Eric J. Markovich took the plea. Sentencing in the case is set for April 7 at 10:30 a.m. before Magistrate Judge Markovich.

Radtke pleaded guilty to a three-count Misdemeanor Information filed Friday morning. The plea agreement includes a stipulated sentence of one year of probation with the special condition that the defendant will never seek a position in law enforcement or with Pima County and that seeking such a position will be considered a breach of the plea agreement. The sentencing agreement is subject to the approval of, and acceptance of the Court.

“We have reached a just outcome in this case. This investigation and prosecution has cleaned the Pima County Sheriff’s Office of years of corruption and ensures it will not return,” U.S. Attorney John W. Huber of the District of Utah said today. “We recognize and commend the excellent work that the FBI in Tucson did on this important case.”

According to admissions made in a court document filed in connection with the plea for approximately 18 years until July 2016, officers at the Pima County Sheriff’s Department engaged in a scheme to launder RICO/forfeiture funds to circumvent the strict restrictions on the use of those funds. The officers collaborated together to make it appear that the Sheriff’s Department was donating the RICO/forfeiture funds to the Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers (SAV), although the funds were actually used by the Sheriff’s Department.

Radtke admitted that he became involved in this practice roughly six years ago while assigned as the Administrative Services Division Commander. He said that at that time, his supervisors explained to him that although the RICO funds were donated to the SAV, the funds were actually used by the Sheriff’s Department for purposes unrelated to the SAV. After the funds were laundered this way, the Sheriff’s Department could use the funds free of any restrictions, according to court documents. Officers would use checks and credit cards from the SAV to make it appear that the SAVs were using the funds.

Radtke admitted that for about five and a half years, until July 2016, he participated in the scheme. He approved internal Sheriff’s Department memoranda requesting the “donation” of RICO/forfeiture funds to the SAV. He also participated in deciding which SAV accounts the fund would go into and how the funds would be spent. He acknowledged that by engaging in this conduct, he violated the law.

As a part of his guilty plea to Count 1, Radtke admitted that on May 12, 2011, he participated in using a Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers check for $926.09 to reimburse the Sheriff’s Department special awards fund. He admitted that he requested part of that reimbursement for a $250 restaurant bill and tip, and other Sheriff’s Department employees requested $109.09 in reimbursement for a new microwave oven for the breakroom at the Sheriff’s Department.

With regard to Count 2, Radtke admitted that on July 24, 2014, he participated in using the Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers credit card to purchase two model airplanes for himself and a colleague for $599.90 and to pay $90 for shipping. On July 29, 2014, he participated in using the Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers credit card to pay $50 for a rush shipping charge for the model airplanes.

In pleading guilty to Count 3, Radtke admitted that on April 20, 2015, he participated in using a Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers check to pay an artist $500 to create a menu for the chalkboard at the café at the Sheriff’s Department, even though the café was owned and operated by his niece, not by the Sheriff’s Department.

In each of the three incidents, Radtke admitted that he knowingly converted the funds to the use of the Sheriff’s Department with the intention of depriving the owner of the use or benefit of the money or property.

Pima County Deputy Sheriff’s Association president Sgt. Kevin Kubitskey stated, “After hearing what the plea agreement was in court today, I’m not surprised with what the final penalties will be. To have seven felonies reduced down to three misdemeanors all for under $1000 was somewhat disappointing. However a couple of beneficial things came out of the sentencing today. The first being the statement made by the prosecution that this was happening over an 18 year period, involving numerous people. To have Chris Radtke agree to that statement tells me that there’s potential that others are being looked at. I certainly hope that the US Attorney pushes forward and charges those other people due to the fact that a great many of us stuck our necks out and jeopardized our families for the families of Pima County. The second great thing to come from this is that Chris Radtke Radke will never work in law-enforcement again nor will he work for Pima County in anyway shape or form.”

According to the original indictment:

Radtke conspired with others in the Pima County Sheriff’s Department to make it appear that the forfeiture funds were being used by the SAV by using SAV checks and the SAV credit card to pay for items that were actually purchased for the Sheriff’s Office and individuals affiliated with the defendant. The following are examples of the approximate $500,000 of financial transactions affecting interstate and foreign commerce that were designed in whole or in part to conceal and disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, and control of the proceeds of specified unlawful activity:

a. On May 12, 2011, an SAV check was issued to an employee of the Sheriff’s Office for $926.09. Supporting documentation shows that the check was to reimbursed the special awards fund, and that the defendant requested part of that reimbursement for a $250 restaurant bill and tip and that other Sheriff’s Office employees requested $109.09 in reimbursement for a new microwave oven for the break room at the Sheriff’s Office;

b. On September 21, 2011, an SAV check was issued to an employee of the Sheriff’ Office for $627.60. Supporting documentation shows the check was to reimburse the SAV food and refreshment fund and that the defendant requested part of that reimbursement for an $80.79 restaurant bill and tip for a lunch for the Sheriff’s Office custodians;

c. On October 31, 2011, an SAV check was issued to an employee of the Sheriff’s Office for $288.72. Supporting documentation shows that the check was to reimburse the Sheriff’s Office for materials to assemble a Santa sleigh to be used at the Sheriff’s Office annual awards banquet and that the defendant approved the use of the funds for that purpose;

d. On December 4, 2013, an SAV check for $600 was issued to a business called “on-dree-ah” to purchase a chalkboard. The invoice was addressed to an employee at the Sheriff’s Office;

e. On January 6, 2014, an SAV check was issued to an artist for $300. Supporting documentation shows that the check was to reimburse the Sheriff’s Office for artwork for a chalkboard at the cafe at the Sheriff’s Office, even though the cafe was owned and operated by the defendant’s niece, not by the Sheriff’s Office;

f. On July 23, 2014, the SAV Chase credit card was used to purchase a photograph for the Sheriff’s Office for $31.34. A handwritten note on an email reflecting the purchase states that the photograph was requested by the defendant;

g. On July 24, 2014, the SAV Chase credit card was used to purchase two model airplanes for the Sheriff’s Office for $599.90 and to pay $90 for shipping. The invoice lists the defendant’s last name next to one of the model airplanes and that the model airplanes were being shipped to the Sheriff’s Office;

h. On July 29, 2014, the SAY Chase credit card was used to pay $50 for a rush shipping charge for the model airplanes to be shipped to the Sheriff’s Office;

i. On March 31, 2015, the SAV Chase credit card was used to purchase a chalkboard for $366.29 and to pay $135 for shipping and handling charges.

Supporting documentation shows that the chalkboard was purchased for the cafe at the Sheriff’s Office, even though the cafe was owned and operated by the defendant’s niece, not by the Sheriff’s Office; and

j. On April 20, 2015, an SAV check was issued to an artist for $500. Supporting documentation shows that the check was to reimburse the Sheriff’s Office for artwork for a chalkboard at the cafe at the Sheriff’s Office, even though the cafe was owned and operated by the defendant’s niece, not by the Sheriff’s Office.

About David Ahumada 162 Articles
David studied journalism at Northern Arizona University. After graduation he began writing for the Arizona Daily Independent.