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SALT LAKE CITY — A former Unified police detective who had worked with the department for nearly 20 years has admitted to mishandling money meant for drug investigations.
Kenneth Callahan, 49, answered with a quiet "guilty" when asked for his plea to a reduced charge of misusing public money, a third-degree felony. In exchange for the plea, a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct was dismissed.
The third-degree felony conviction carries a potential sentence of up to five years in prison, 3rd District Court Judge Katie Bernards-Goodman informed Callahan. If Callahan successfully completes his probation, however, prosecutors agreed to reduce the felony conviction to a class A misdemeanor.
Callahan is set to be sentenced on Oct. 2.
Callahan was arrested and charged in March after a department audit identified 46 instances between October 2013 and January 2015 that the veteran officer had requested funds intended for controlled drug buys, but failed to book anything into evidence afterward.
Callahan was placed on administrative leave at the time of his arrest and resigned from the department in April.
In some drug investigations, detectives request money from the department, which is then often given to a confidential informant working with police to buy controlled substances from drug dealers. Officers obtain the "buy money" from the department using funds transfer receipts known as "chits."
According to department policy, each chit contains a case number and an explanation of how the money will be used. Once an informant purchases drugs with the money, the drugs are given to police and are stored as evidence. The officer records on the chit how much money was spent, what kind of drugs were purchased and the quantity, according to charging documents.
In those 46 cases, no money was ever returned to (Unified police). Many of the cases for which the defendant submitted a chit for controlled purchases of drugs were cases that were not even drug-related cases.
"In those 46 cases, no money was ever returned to (Unified police). Many of the cases for which the defendant submitted a chit for controlled purchases of drugs were cases that were not even drug-related cases," the charges state. "In some other cases, (Callahan) submitted a chit for a controlled purchase of drugs several months after those cases were closed."
The former detective was also ordered as part of the plea deal Friday to pay $8,485 in restitution, the amount he received from the department in those 46 cases.
Callahan, dressed in a polo shirt for an NFL team, and his attorney declined comment as they left the courtroom.