The indictment of a former police officer on charges he stole cash from people he pulled over follows a city probe that led to his firing.
Michael J. Darrah, who was fired in September after an internal investigation, was indicted Thursday on four counts of extortion by a police officer, five counts of larceny from a person, three counts of larceny under $250 and two counts of larceny over $250, Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz and Police Chief William Conlon said.
Darrah is accused of stealing cash from three people he pulled over on what were described as bogus charges and from an intoxicated man at the police station who was being taken to a detox center.
The indictments were handed up late Thursday following a three-month grand jury probe.
Darrah, who joined the force in 2004, was officially fired by the city for conduct unbecoming a police officer.
Conlon said the investigation continued even after Darrah was fired as authorities tracked down victims who initially were wary of the police.
A number of the victims spoke little or no English and feared their complaints would not be taken seriously, he said.
“It was hard to get their confidence. They were easy prey,” Conlon said. “You can understand why they were uneasy. We had to convince them they were not the people in trouble.”
The chief said the indictments should send a message to the community that misconduct by law enforcement would not be tolerated.
“People should feel confident when they make a complaint, it will be taken seriously and it will be investigated,” Conlon said. “People will pay the penalty … it is shameful conduct and it can’t and won’t be tolerated.”
Darrah was the third Brockton police officer to be fired since January 2009 in unrelated cases. Darrah had been suspended – then placed on administrative leave – last August after several people came forward to police alleging misconduct.
Brockton police launched an investigation last year when several motorists reported they were pulled over and searched.
Each person said they discovered money or their wallets were taken from their pockets after the officer left.
In each case, the officer told them he could either arrest them or write them a ticket for offenses the witnesses said were false.
In another case, an officer was alleged to have taken $1,700 from the pocket of an intoxicated man he was transporting to the High Point detox facility.
The district attorney’s office reported that happened after the officer ordered the man’s mother to leave the room while he searched her son’s pockets.
The police investigation included witness interviews, photo arrays, a review of internal police records, and what license plates had been run by officers, among other things.