- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 23, 2015

RIO GRANDE CITY, Texas (AP) - A former Rio Grande City police chief died in what authorities said Tuesday was a possible suicide, hours after the FBI accused him of stealing more than $44,000 in federal grant money.

Byron “Dutch” Piper, who retired last December, was found dead overnight at his home, with a possible self-inflicted gunshot wound, current Rio Grande City police Chief Noe Castillo said.

The FBI had filed a theft complaint Monday accusing Piper of stealing grant money since 2009 meant for overtime pay for border security operations carried out by local police. Piper had been scheduled for a court appearance Tuesday in McAllen, officials said.

Federal agents received information last October that Piper, 63, may have been submitting time sheets reflecting hours for work not done, the affidavit said. Agents conducted surveillance on Piper on several dates in December, finding that he appeared to do little, if any, actual police work, the complaint said.

“He stayed several hours at home; he spent several hours eating meals at various restaurants; and he completed a number of personal errands,” the complaint said.

Piper, in a voluntary meeting with agents in January, acknowledged filing false time and attendance sheets to fraudulently collect money, the affidavit said. The former sheriff said in a statement to the FBI on Feb. 25 that he did not work 70 percent of the time as submitted on his time sheet.

“I did it out of being lazy and stupidity,” Piper’s statement said. “I am very, very sorry for my actions. It is not only another stain on law enforcement but I am also hurting my family and embarrassing them.”

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