PHOENIX - The former Phoenix police officer accused of masterminding a fraud scheme involving off-duty police officers has pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor theft charge.
George Contreras will serve three months unsupervised probation and pay $6,111 in restitution to various homeowners associations and businesses affected by his actions.
"My client admitted to no guilt," said Contreras' attorney, Jay Beckstead. "He did not plead guilty. He pled no contest to a misdemeanor offense, which - in speeding terms - could be 20 miles over the speed limit," he said.
In 2010, Contreras was indicted on various felony charges including fraud, illegal control of an enterprise, and theft.
He and several other officers were accused of accepting payments for off-duty security work that had not been completed. Contreras was also accused of filing false invoice documents.
At the time three other police officers were also indicted on similar charges.
In 2011, the case against the other officers was dismissed, and they are now suing the state for damages associated with the investigation.
The felony charges against Contreras were dropped, according to Beckstead.
"This case was overcharged from the beginning," said Beckstead.
"I'm very happy that we can put this to bed and allow George to get on with his life. This process has bankrupted him, in essence. He has paid quite dearly. He's lost his guitar shop, his job; he's been dragged through the mud," he said.
"By pleading no contest, I think that should indicate to the public where the state's case actually is or was," Beckstead added.