- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 26, 2016

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - An Ohio police officer accused of stealing over $26,000 from a charity program that provides money to buy Christmas gifts for financially disadvantaged children has pleaded guilty to grand theft.

The Summit County Prosecutor’s Office says 42-year-old Michael Simmons pleaded guilty Wednesday in an agreement with prosecutors.

Authorities said the Richfield Police Department veteran spent more than $26,000 from the fund on personal expenses from 2010 to 2016. Investigators said those expenses included sporting event tickets, electronics, clothing and tools.

Simmons coordinated the department’s Shop with a Cop program and was initially charged with theft in office. He could be sentenced to 18 months in prison. Prosecutors are recommending probation and restitution.

Simmons‘ attorney told the judge Wednesday that his client has no previous criminal history or disciplinary problems.

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