East Chicago Detective Indicted In Alleged Private Security Ghost-Payroll Schem
HAMMOND, IND. – An East Chicago, Ind., police detective was indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly engaging in a ghost-payroll scheme for nearly three years while he worked three different part-time security jobs in addition to his full-time law enforcement duties. The defendant, ROBERT APONTE, was charged with six counts of mail fraud and six counts of wire fraud in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Hammond.
Aponte, 42, of Chesterton, Ind., is scheduled to be arraigned at 9 a.m. on Monday in U.S. District Court in Hammond. Aponte has been an East Chicago police officer for 19 years, and during that time, he also served approximately eight years as an officer with the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task force in Crown Point, Ind.
The charges, returned yesterday, were announced today by Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago is handling the prosecution in the Northern District of Indiana.
According to the indictment, between January 2009 and September 2011, Aponte defrauded his employers by receiving inflated wages from his private security side jobs by submitting time sheets that falsely overstated the hours he had worked. While working full time for the East Chicago Police Department, Aponte also held three part-time jobs as a security officer: at the East Chicago Housing Authority’s West Calumet Housing Complex; at Trillium Properties’ Lakeside Gardens and Harborside Apartments; and at Safety Training and Tracing, controlling and directing traffic at the BP refinery in Whiting, Ind.
Aponte allegedly scheduled shifts at West Calumet that overlapped with his shifts at the two Trillium properties and the BP refinery. He then caused the East Chicago Housing Authority to pay him for security patrols at West Calumet, when, instead, he was actually patrolling at either Lakeside Gardens or Harborside Apartments, or controlling refinery traffic, the charges allege. In addition, Aponte allegedly inflated the hours he worked for the housing authority and Trillium when he actually went off-duty for lengthy periods during his shifts and departed his duty station before his shifts ended.
The government is being represented by Chicago Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Otlewski, who is serving as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in Northern Indiana.
Each count of mail or wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.