Home Kansas City Press Releases 2013 Former Wichita Police Officer Charged in Scheme to Pay Bribe to Save Her Job

Former Wichita Police Officer Charged in Scheme to Pay Bribe to Save Her Job

U.S. Attorney’s Office May 22, 2013
  • District of Kansas (316) 269-6481

WICHITA, KS—A former officer of the Wichita Police Department and two other people have been charged with conspiracy and wire fraud after an internal investigation by police concluded that they were involved in scheme to keep the officer from losing her job, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today. The police department submitted the results of its investigation to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office for review.

Former officer Joletta Vallejo, 34, and her friends, Patrick Melendrez, 40, Wichita, and Courtney Foster, 30, Wichita, are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and seven counts of wire fraud.

The indictment alleges that on October 16, 2011, a woman went to the Patrol North substation in Wichita to report that she had been abducted and beaten by her boyfriend, Larry Edmonds. Vallejo took the report and opened a case of misdemeanor domestic violence.

During the same evening, another man called the police department’s Case Desk, a 24-hour service for the public to report crimes that do not require an officer’s presence to make an arrest or collect evidence. The man said Edmonds, the suspect in the abduction and beating, had robbed him and stolen his car. The man was told to report the crime to a police officer. When the man went to Patrol North to report the car theft, Vallejo refused to take the report and told him to call the Case Desk.

Ultimately, Edmonds was arrested, charged, and convicted in Sedgwick County District Court on felony charges of aggravated kidnaping, robbery, and attempted first-degree murder. The police department’s Professionals Standards Bureau investigated Vallejo’s handling of the initial reports and concluded that she violated departmental policies and regulations.

The indictment alleges that on August 22, 2012, Vallejo knew she was going to be fired. She arranged for co-defendant Patrick Melendrez to make a call to the man who tried to report the car theft. Melendrez offered to pay the man to change his statements to the police department’s Professional Standards Bureau. Melenrez said he would pay the man $150 to change his statement to make it less likely Vallejo would lose her job—and another $150 if Vallejo was able to keep her job. Then, Vallejo, Melendrez, and co-defendant Courtney Foster drove to an ATM, where Vallejo got cash for Melendrez to pay the bribe.

Melendrez set up a meeting to pay the man to change his statements. Melendrez took a tape recorder to the meeting that Vallejo had given him so he could record the man’s call to police changing his statement. Co-defendant Foster gave Melendrez a ride to the meeting and waited across the street during the meeting.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each count. The Wichita Police Department and the FBI investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Barnett is prosecuting.

Other Indictments

A former Wichita-area physician who is serving time on supervised release for a drug violation has been indicted on federal charges including possession of controlled substances, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.

A grand jury returned an indictment charging Lawrence M. Simons, 57, Wichita, with one count of possession of controlled substances, one count of unlawful possession of a firearm after a felony conviction, and one count of unlawful possession of ammunition after a felony conviction.

In January 2010, Simons, a former employee of the Schneider Medical Clinic in Haysville, Kansas, was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison, to be followed by three years on supervised release, after he pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawfully distributing a controlled substance. In his plea, he admitted he prescribed Fentanyl and that the prescriptions were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose or made in the usual course of medical practice because the person who received the prescription was not his patient.

The new indictment alleges that in August 2008 Simons signed an agreement with the Drug Enforcement Administration to voluntarily surrender his controlled substances privileges. The indictment alleges that in August 2009, he leased three storage units at West Kellogg Stor-Al in Wichita, where he stored personal property and controlled substances including Fentanyl, Actiq, Lortab Elixer, Ketamine, Versed, Midazolam, Brevital Sodium, Diazepam, Stadol, and Niravan. The indictment alleges he continued to possess the controlled substances until November 2012 when his access to the storage units was revoked because he stopped making the lease payments.

The indictment also alleges that on April 17, 2013, Simons possessed a .32 caliber pistol and ammunition. Simons initially was charged with that crime in a criminal complaint filed May 10 in U.S. District Court in Wichita.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of two years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on the drug charge and a maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on each of the two firearms charges. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Metzger is prosecuting.

John L. Gagliardo, 60, Pittsburg, Kansas, and George Washington, 50, Pittsburg, Kansas, are charged with two counts of attempted mail fraud and two counts of attempted wire fraud. In addition, Gagliardo is charged with 10 counts of making false statements to the FBI. The crimes are alleged to have occurred in 2010 and 2011 in Crawford County, Kansas.

The indictment alleges that while Gagliardo was employed as the 911 director for Crawford County, Kansas, he and Washington, who owned Washington Electronics in Pittsburg, devised a scheme to fraudulently obtain bids to multiple local governments for 911 equipment or storm warning equipment under the name of Washington Electronics. They submitted fraudulent bids using the names of fictitious companies such as K-Communications of Scammon, Kansas, and K-Sirens of Scammon, Kansas, to make it appear multiple competitive bids had been submitted. In reality, the fictitious bids were always higher in costs than the bids presented by Washington Electronics, ensuring that Washington Electronics would be the winning bidder.

If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each of the wire fraud and mail fraud charges. In addition, Gagliardo faces a maximum penalty of five years and a fine up to $250,000 on each count of making a false statement to investigators. The KBI and the FBI investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch is prosecuting.

John Noon, 65, is charged with one count of armed bank robbery. The indictment alleges that on May 4, 2013, he robbed the Community America Credit Union on Parallel Parkway in Kansas City Kansas.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. The Kansas City, Kansas Police Department and the FBI investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Rask is prosecuting.

Paula J. Sargent, 47, Ransom, Kansas, is charged with embezzling funds while working for the U.S. Postal Service. The crime is alleged to have occurred April 23, 2013, in Ness County, Kansas.

If convicted, she faces a penalty of up to a year in federal prison on the misdemeanor charge. The USPS-OIG investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Metzger is prosecuting.

Dallas E. Izzard, 32, Wichita, Kansas, is charged with one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, one count of unlawful possession of a firearm after a felony conviction, and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number. The crimes are alleged to have occurred in April and May 2013 in Sedgwick County, Kansas.

Upon conviction, the crimes carry the following penalties:

  • Possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking: A maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.
  • Possession with intent to distribute cocaine: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $250,000.
  • Possession with intent to distribute marijuana: A maximum penalty of five years and a fine up to $250,000.
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm after a felony conviction: A maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000.
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number: Not less than five years and a fine up to $250,000.

The Wichita Police Department investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Treaster is prosecuting.

Terry L. Wood, 53, Topeka, Kansas, is charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and one count of maintaining a residence in furtherance of drug trafficking at 1549 SW Brunswick Road in Topeka, which is within 1,000 feet of McCarter Elementary School. The crimes are alleged to have occurred in April and May 2013 in Shawnee County, Kansas.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a fine up to $20 million on the possession charge and a maximum penalty of life and a fine up to $40 million on the charge of maintaining a residence in furtherance of drug trafficking. The Topeka Police Department; the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department; and the Drug Enforcement Administration investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Mattivi is prosecuting.

Shawn Turner, 30, is charged with unlawful possession of a firearm after a felony conviction. The crime is alleged to have occurred March 15, 2013, in Shawnee County, Kansas.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. The Topeka Police Department Patrol Division and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Hendershot is prosecuting.

Ericka Murillo-Aguilar, 32, a citizen of Mexico, is charged with unlawfully re-entering the United States after being deported. She was found May 3, 2013, in Sedgwick County, Kansas.

If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of two years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. ICE’s Enforcement Removal Operations investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson is prosecuting.

Leslie Lyle Camick, 57, a citizen of Canada, is charged with one count of mail fraud, five counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of immigration document fraud, one count of making a false statement to the U.S. government, one count of making a false statement on a bank application, and one count of bank fraud. The crimes are alleged to have occurred at various times from October 2005 to April 2013 in Sedgwick County, Kansas.

Upon conviction, the crimes carry the following penalties:

  • Mail fraud: A maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000.
  • Aggravated identity theft: A mandatory two years to run consecutively to any underlying sentence and a fine up to $250,000.
  • Immigration document fraud: A maximum penalty of 15 years and a fine up to $250,000.
  • Making a false statement to the U.S. government: A maximum penalty of five years and a fine up to $250,000.
  • Making a false statement on a bank application: A maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.
  • Bank fraud: A maximum penalty of 30 years and a fine up to $250,000.

ICE Homeland Security Investigations investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson is prosecuting.

Robert L. White, 31, is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm after a felony conviction and one count of unlawful possession of a sawed off shotgun. The crimes are alleged to have occurred May 21, 2013, in Sedgwick County, Kansas.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on the charge of unlawful possession after a felony conviction and a maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $10,000 on the shotgun charge. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives investigated. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Jacobs is prosecuting.

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.

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