(Houston) — A Harris County grand jury has indicted a man, accused of stealing money while he was a Houston Police officer in charge of union money.
Matt Calley, 44, is now charged with two felonies: Misapplication of Fiduciary Property over $200,000 and Theft Over $200,000. He’s due in court for his first appearance on Tuesday.
In January, KPRC Local 2 broke the story of yet another rip-off at the Houston Police Officer’s Union, the largest police union in the state.
The union president reported the theft when Capital One credit card notified the union that Calley’s personal credit card bills were being paid by union checks that appeared to be altered.
The union checks had been made out to “P-R-J,” which is a telemarketing company used by the union for fund-raising. The purchases seemed legitimate when Calley and a second union official signed the checks, according to the union.
However, after that second signature was filled in, the union says the “Pay To” line on the checks was altered. The letters “CA” were added before the initials. The letter “P” was left alone and the letter “R” was made to look like an “A”. Then, the “J” was made to look like an “L.” The word “One was then filled in to make payments of at least $30,000 in personal credit card debt when the theft was discovered. Investigators then found more and more checks, topping the $200,000 threshhold that led to the hefty felony charges.
HPOU President Gary Blankinship issued a statement when the theft was discovered, saying,
Unfortunately a board member and police officer has done a very bad thing.”
Calley resigned from the union board immediately. He was relieved of duty by HPD and then he turned in his retirement, ending his police career.
Calley had signature authority over checks written by the HPOU Political Action Committee, where he was chairman. He was also serving on the union’s Ways & Means committee.
The grand jury indictment accuses Calley of a “continuing course of criminal conduct from June 2003 and lasting through January 2010.
The union says Calley has accepted responsibility for the theft and has promised to repay money.
The union also stressed that union dues, which are deducted from officers’ paychecks, were not involved in the stolen money. PAC money, according to the union, comes from donations that are specifically directed toward the union’s political endorsements and campaigning.
Calley’s coworkers say he had been struggling with gambling debts, a struggle that had continued to spiral downhill for Calley since his partner, Officer Gary Gryder, was killed in a traffic accident while on duty in 2008.
This makes a total of 3 union officials now awaiting trial for stealing from the HPOU. In 2007, the union’s treasurer Jeff Larson and secretary Ronnie Martin were indicted on felony charges of stealing union money in a separate scheme.
Larson and Martin have pleaded not guilty and they have court appearances scheduled in the coming months, when a trial date could be set.
In that unrelated racket, investigators said Martin pocketed money by selling union cars at artificial values, and the pair was also accused of taking cash from a union safe.
The union says additional safeguards were put in place after each theft to keep union funds from being compromised yet again.
For more info: Local 2 News coverage of this case