Decorated Officer Indicted in Scandal 20-Year Veteran Faces Charges of Felony Theft and Misconduct

Article excerpt

One of DuPage County's most decorated police officers was indicted Wednesday on charges of theft and official misconduct.

Bensenville police Sgt. Joe De Anda, a nearly 20-year department veteran, was charged with one count of felony theft and six counts of official misconduct. DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett announced the grand jury indictment Wednesday.

"It's a sad day when charges are brought against a police officer or any public employee," Birkett said.

Authorities allege that on six occasions between January 1995 and July 1996, De Anda, 48, removed a total of $6,019 in cash from the department that had been seized during gambling and drugs investigations.

The indictment also alleges De Anda altered department records to make it look like the money had been deposited properly, and that in February 1998, he returned the same amount of money to the department and claimed it was the seized money. That in itself would classify as misconduct, Birkett said.

Reached at his Bensenville home Wednesday, De Anda denied any wrongdoing and said he believes he's been set up.

"I'm just kind of numb right now," De Anda said. "I don't have much to say. I'm absolutely innocent. ... It's a shame this hasn't been a fair and impartial investigation from the get-go."

De Anda is the second officer indicted on charges stemming from a January 1998 FBI raid on Club Latino, a Bensenville bar owned by De Anda's parents and managed by his brother.

The raid touched off an investigation by the village, which was headed by Theodore Poulos, a former assistant U.S. attorney. The probe into the FBI raid has concluded, but a separate investigation is continuing.

William Wassman, a former evidence custodian, was indicted in February 1999 on charges of obstruction of justice and official misconduct on suspicion he tampered with evidence. …