Instead of retiring from a lengthy law enforcement career as a respected public servant, a former Colusa police officer last week officially ended his career as a convicted felon.
Elden Henry Tamez, 55, of Yuba City, the former second in command at the Colusa Police Department, was convicted on four felony charges related to the theft of more than $12,000 from the K9 fund and Peace Officers Association, and $1,200 from property booked into evidence in a murder investigation.
The conviction is the result of a plea deal reached between Tamez and prosecutors that will exclude jail time as punishment.
Tamez, with private attorney David Dratman, of Sacramento, appeared in Colusa County Superior Court on Sept. 16, where he pleaded no contest to two counts of grand theft, one count of grant theft of personal property, and one count of receiving stolen property. He also made payment to the court in the amount of $31,987, for full restitution, fines, and penalties.
Tamez resigned from the Colusa Police Department on Oct. 17, 2019, when the theft of K9 funds was first discovered, and after he admitted to Chief Josh Fitch that he took the money.
A Yolo County criminal investigator, who later audited the Colusa Police Department bank accounts, discovered 34 unauthorized cash withdrawals between Oct. 26, 2018 and Oct. 16, 2019 from the K9 account totaling $8,860, and 16 unauthorized cash withdrawals totalling $3,940 from the Peace Officers Association, during the same time period, according to court records.
Three months after Tamez’ resignation, Colusa County District Attorney investigators served a search warrant at Tamez’ Yuba City apartment, where they seized murder victim Karen Garcia’s wallet, which was originally booked into evidence as containing $1,287 in cash, along with 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.
In exchange for his no contest pleas on the four felony charges, and payment of full restitution, the Colusa County District Attorney’s Office dismissed the remaining charges relating to the theft of the guns and the single felony embezzlement charge, which could have resulted in Tamez serving a lengthy prison sentence.
Although Tamez was facing up to three years in prison on each admitted charge, Colusa County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Thompson sentenced him to 180 days on a GPS tracking devise and five years supervised probation, as recommended by the Colusa County Probation Department.
Thompson said Tamez’ conviction, which violated public trust, was a sad circumstance in which Tamez ultimately paid a hefty price.
In addition to loosing his job and incurring significant financial costs as a result of his actions, under California law, Tamez, a public employee convicted by the court for felony conduct arising out of or in the performance of his duties, must forfeit all accrued rights and benefits in his public retirement system, retroactive to the first commission date of his crime, which was Oct. 26, 2018, officials said.
At the time of his arrest, Tamez’ total annual public-employee salary, benefits, and pension contributions were in excess of $120,000. ♣