Thursday, March 04, 2010

Officer Aaron Bailey Accused of Defrauding the County of $400,800

Montgomery County sued one of its police officers Wednesday, alleging that he defrauded the county of $400,800 while running a company that provided firearms training to officers.

Central to the officer's fraud, the county alleged, was that he enticed colleagues to take training classes by offering them deeply discounted weapons upon completion of the classes -- $99 for a handgun valued at several times that, for example. As for the training, that was free to the officers who enrolled because it was paid by the county's tuition assistance program.

The lawsuit said that it amounted to the officer using tuition assistance funds to subsidize the weapons, which one official has called "the candy" to get other officers enrolled in the training classes.

The officer, Aaron Bailey, declined to comment through his attorney, Charles Rand, who said he had not seen the lawsuit and would not comment until he does. It is unclear what their defense will be, but some officials have speculated that what Bailey did was akin to department stores offering "loss leader" merchandise, which they lose money on, simply to get shoppers in the door.

The lawsuit is the latest twist in the county's troubled tuition assistance program, which top officials have acknowledged was not properly monitored. In recent years, employees have used the program to take classes ranging from "Bible Doctrines" and "Aerobics" to "The Christian Home" and "Life on the Down Low."

Within the next week, Montgomery County's inspector general, Thomas J. Dagley, is expected to release the findings of his office's investigation into the tuition assistance program.
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