(Photo courtesy of Cape Girardeau Police Department)
Michelle L. Gary, an officer until Nov. 13, will be in court Dec. 14 for arraignment on charges that she falsely reported a check as stolen to avoid bad check charges and took $100 to help a wanted fugitive obtain information about whether a warrant was active on a third person. Both charges are misdemeanors.
The investigation of Gary, 34, 104 S. Louisiana St., was handled by the FBI at the request of the Cape Girardeau Police Department, Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle said.
"This has been ongoing for months by the FBI," Swingle said.
Gary resigned from the force and was aware that the investigation was underway when she resigned, police chief Carl Kinnison said. She was suspended with pay about the beginning of November when the investigation showed that charges were likely, Kinnison said.
"First of all it is disappointing," Kinnison said. "You know every organization at some point typically will find something that someone is doing that is improper or a policy violation. When we heard about the allegations, we invited FBI in to remove ourselves from the investigation. This is the end result of that."
According to a sworn statement from FBI Special Agent Brian Ritter, Gary received a call from Zatrun Twiggs on Aug. 10 asking whether there was an outstanding warrant against a man named Kevin Sago. Gary used a line without a recording device attached to call the city communications center to run a warrant check. Sago, who was charged on Aug. 20 for a July 31 robbery in New Madrid, Mo., did not have a warrant on that date.
Twiggs was a wanted man, with a felony warrant from Cape Girardeau County for drugs and two misdemeanor warrants as well, from Dunklin and Stoddard counties.
Ritter said Twiggs told him he paid Gary $100 for the information, using a third party to deliver the cash. Under interrogation, Gary said she received $40, but it was intended for her to spend gambling and not a payment for sensitive information, Ritter wrote.
Gary's false police report is based on how she described an $800 check used to pay gambling debts, Ritter wrote. When faced with bad check charges because the draft was rejected by Cape Regional Credit Union, Gary claimed the person who cashed the check had stolen it. The person who received the check, however, told Ritter that Gary wrote the check left-handed to disguise her handwriting and a witness confirmed the report.
The official misconduct charge carries a maximum penalty of 1 year in the county jail. The false report charge carries a maximum term of six months in jail.
Kinnison said he thinks the situation was handled well. "The important thing is if we find this occurring we handle it appropriately and very quickly."
40 S. Sprigg St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.
100 Court St., Jackson, Mo.
104 S. Louisiana St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.