A Los Angeles police officer who resigned after being arrested on charges of pocketing $270 from money seized during arrests of drug dealers has pleaded not guilty to embezzlement, authorities said Wednesday.
Kendall Lee Walker, 30, a five-year veteran of the department, was arrested Aug. 10 after an internal sting operation showed that he was taking small amounts of money from cash seized during drug arrests, Cmdr. William Booth said.
"This was seized money that he was siphoning off a little bit at a time," Booth said. "He was not booking all the money" into evidence.
Walker was charged with five counts of embezzling public money, Booth said. He was released on $5,000 bail and pleaded not guilty to the charges Aug. 31 in Van Nuys Municipal Court. If convicted, he could face up to four years in state prison.
Walker had been assigned to the San Fernando Valley's field enforcement team, a unit based in Van Nuys that primarily conducts street-level "buy-bust" operations. He resigned the day of his arrest.
Booth said the investigation began several weeks ago when another field enforcement team member alerted superiors after noticing discrepancies between amounts of money taken during arrests and later placed in evidence.
An internal sting operation followed in which Walker's method of handling seized money was carefully observed, Booth said. Walker did not follow department procedures requiring officers to file detailed reports on items and cash taken during arrests, Booth said.
The investigation found that Walker had taken a total of $270 during five different arrests, Booth said.
Booth said department supervisors do not believe that Walker's arrest will endanger any narcotics cases in which he was involved.
Booth said that while conducting investigations, Walker worked with other members of the team who were not involved in the alleged thefts and can be witnesses in court. He also said Walker's behavior should not affect the validity of the cases because the alleged thefts occurred after arrests had been made and when the money was technically in the city's custody.