A former D.C. police officer admitted Thursday to falsifying logs regarding the testing of mobile photo-radar cameras that issue speeding tickets — a move that resulted in the department having to refund more than $17,000 in traffic ticket fines.
According to court records, the 22-year department veteran was supposed to be monitoring photo-radar equipment during overtime shifts and taking test photographs once an hour with the cameras to ensure they were working properly. In 2008 and 2009, prosecutors said Mr. Cephas failed to take the once-an-hour shots on 33 occasions and covered up the mistakes by rolling back the clock on the radar unit in order to make it appear he had properly tested the machines.
Had the department found out at the time that he had failed to take the proper test photos, Mr. Cephas would have been suspended from his lucrative overtime duty for 90 days, court records state. As a result of the falsification of the documents, the department could not confirm the accuracy of the radar readings used to issue 200 tickets. The department refunded $17,550 in fines as a result.
The department discovered the falsified logs during an internal audit that began in May 2009, police said.
Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier issued a statement Thursday thanking her department’s internal affairs division for working “to ensure that all of our members uphold the highest standards and integrity.”
Court records indicate Mr. Cephas, who resigned from the police department as a result of his intent to plead guilty, received $17,056 from the overtime shifts that he was working when he falsified the testing records. A plea agreement indicates that he will pay back the $17,550 the department lost in revenue from the refunded tickets but does not mention any pay back of the overtime salary earned.
His attorney, Rebecca S. LeGrand, did not return a phone call requesting comment.
Mr. Cephas is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 30. Second-degree fraud is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
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Andrea Noble is a crime and public safety reporter for The Washington Times. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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