The former Colusa police officer accused of embezzlement and theft waived his right to a timely preliminary hearing last week in order for his attorney to work on a possible plea deal.
Elden Tamez, 55, of Yuba City, is scheduled to appear in Colusa County Superior Court on Sept. 19, where he may plead guilty to four of the 11 felony charges against him according to his private attorney David W. Dratman, of Sacramento.
Tamez pleaded not guilty earlier this year to multiple felony charges, including embezzlement, receiving stolen property, grand theft of firearms, and grand theft of personal property after the Colusa Police Department initially discovered a significant amount of money was missing from the Colusa K-9 bank account.
According to court documents, Tamez resigned from the Colusa Police Department on Oct. 17, 2019, the same day the theft was discovered, after he admitted to Chief Josh Fitch that he was responsible.
A Yolo County criminal investigator, who audited the Colusa Police Department bank accounts, discovered 34 unauthorized cash withdrawals between October 26, 2018 and Oct. 16, 2019 from the K9 account totaling $8,860, and 16 unauthorized cash withdrawals from the Peace Officers Association, during the same time period, totaling $3,940, the documents state.
Tamez was originally charged Nov. 27 with one count of felony embezzlement and two felony counts of grand theft of more than $950.
Three months after Tamez’ resignation, a Colusa Police officer reportedly discovered an evidence bag in Tamez’ former office containing murder victim Karen Garcia’s purse, which originally contained a Kate Spade wallet with $1,287 in cash. Garcia was killed by blunt force trauma on Jan. 8, 2018.
The discovery of the missing evidence led investigators to serve a search warrant at Tamez’ home on Jan. 28, where they found the wallet with Garcia’s identifying information, but no money, court records indicate. Investigators also found a Sig Sauer P220 semi-automatic handgun, a Sig Sauer P228, and a Smith and Wesson .38 special revolver that possibly belonged to the Colusa Police Department, the search warrant return listed.
Dratman said he is working with Colusa County District Attorney’s Office to have the embezzlement and firearm theft charges dismissed in exchange for possible no contest/guilty pleas to two counts of grand theft over $950, one count of receiving stolen property, and one count of grand theft of personal property, plus the payment of restitution.
The plea offer, however, will likely come with a Harvey Waiver on all charges dismissed, which means the court could take into consideration the dismissed charges during sentencing, officials said.
Tamez, who appeared in court on July 22, remains out of jail on bond, pending the resolution of his case. He served 19 years with the Colusa Police Department, and was second-in-command to Chief Fitch at the time the missing money was reportedly discovered.
The lieutenant’s position Tamez once held at the Colusa Police Department has been vacant since his resignation, but city officials hope to fill that position before the end of the year.■