Thursday 27 January 2011

Former Head of Dallas Crime Stoppers Office Indicted Defendants Collected at Least $250,000 in Cash Rewards for Bogus Tips

DALLAS—A federal grand jury in Dallas has indicted Dallas Police Department Senior Corporal Theadora Ross and co-defendant Malva R. Delley each on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the Dallas Crime Stoppers program, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. Ross, 50, of Rowlett, Texas, was arrested midday yesterday and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeff Kaplan late in the afternoon. She was released on bond. Delley, 36, is a Dallas resident.
The Crime Stoppers program is a nationwide program that offers cash rewards for information from anonymous callers that leads to the arrest and indictment of criminals. The program guarantees the anonymity of callers to promote a positive atmosphere without the prospect of retribution. The Dallas Crime Stoppers office is funded by the North Texas Crime Commission (NTCC), fines levied by the Dallas and Collin County courts, private donations and fund raising. The office is staffed by officers of the Dallas Police Department and deputies of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the indictment, which was just unsealed, Ross worked at the Dallas Crime Stoppers office from 2003 to May 2010, and headed that office from March 2006 to May 2010. A “tipster” who called the Crime Stoppers office with information would receive a “tip number.” The tipster then periodically called the Crime Stoppers office to find out if his information resulted in a reward. Ross, and other law enforcement officers assigned to the office, determined which tips were eligible for a cash reward based on the quality of information the tipster provided and whether the ultimate arrest or indictment of a particular subject was actually related to the tip provided.
Ross selected the tips that would be presented to the NTCC for approval of a cash reward. Once the NTCC gave its approval, the anonymous tipster could call the Crime Stoppers office with his previously assigned tip number and would be provided a tip number and code word. These tip numbers and code words were emailed to JP Morgan Chase Bank. The anonymous tipster was required to present the tip number and code word, in person, at Chase Bank, to collect his reward.
The indictment alleges, however, that as part of their scheme, Ross sent JP Morgan Chase Bank the Crime Stoppers cash reward list that included both legitimate code words as well as tip numbers and code words for tips that Ross had altered. Ross gave Delley the bogus tip information, including tip numbers and code words necessary to collect the rewards. After Delley presented the bogus tip numbers and code words to a bank teller at JP Morgan Chase and collected the reward, she would divide the cash, per Ross’s instruction, with Ross, by either depositing it into Ross’s personal bank account or by giving cash directly to Ross.
From February 2005 through May 2010, the conspirators collected at least $250,000 in cash rewards for bogus tips, resulting in a loss to the North Texas Crime Commission. However, no false arrests were made based on Ross’s actions.
An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. However, if convicted, Ross and Delley each face a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Restitution could also be ordered.
The case is being investigated by the FBI and Dallas Police Department - Public Integrity Unit and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Errin Martin and Rick Calvert.

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