Police officers are hired to enforce the law, not to break it. Apparently, Ronny Martin and Jeff Larson chose to do both. The two men, respectively, a retired and current officer with the City of Houston police force, were indicted by a Harris County, Texas grand jury on July 17 on charges of embezzling anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000 from their union, known as the Houston Police Officers’ Union (HPOU). Martin, Larson’s former father-in-law, had served as union board secretary, Larson as treasurer. The police force relieved the pair of their duties as active police officers in January, whereupon Martin stepped down for good. Each man has denied wrongdoing.
During the period December 2004-January 2008, say prosecutors, Martin and Larson engaged in a scheme to misappropriate cash, checks, credit cards and vehicles from the HPOU and its board of directors. Martin was the ringleader, “orchestrating the scheme and benefiting from the transactions,” said the County D.A.’s office. Larson, as treasurer, failed to document various transactions, transferring motor vehicle titles without payment and converting police union checks to cash. District Attorney Ken Magidson declined to specify the transactions at hand, but did say that they will be introduced as evidence at trial. “This is money that was paid for union purposes, that was misappropriated for illegal means and personal use,” he said. Gary Blankenship, who took over as HPOU president when the allegations first surfaced, took a similar view. “Not only is it embarrassing to us, it makes me personally mad,” he remarked. (Houston Chronicle, 7/17/08; click2houston.com, 7/17/08).