Former Tempe Cop Elliot Campbell Pleads Guilty to Stealing Evidence -- Including a Refrigerator

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A former Tempe cop accused of stealing evidence from the agency's evidence room -- including a refrigerator -- has pleaded guilty to reduced charges.

Initially, former Tempe Officer Elliot Campbell was booked on two counts of theft of a credit card, 10 counts of tampering with evidence, and one count each of forgery, burglary, and theft. He pleaded guilty this morning to attempt to commit theft of credit card obtained by fraudulent means, and tampering with physical evidence.

Campbell, an 11-year veteran, was arrested in May after an investigation revealed he looted the department's evidence room and used the items he stole -- including several gift cards to various retail stores -- for a little home improvement.

The Arizona Registrar of Contractors Office began investigating Campbell in April regarding his performing contract work without a contractor's license.

The investigation revealed that Campbell was driving on a suspended license. He was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which ultimately found he'd also been stealing evidence.

During the course of their investigation, authorities searched Campbell's squad car and found envelopes checked out of the department's evidence room in March 2008. Additionally, detectives found that Campbell also had checked out a refrigerator, a clothes washer, a watch, and some tools from the evidence room. He told employees in the evidence room he was planning to return the items to their owners, which is why he was allowed to take them.

It was later determined that the gift cards Campbell had checked out of the evidence room were used at Costco and Target stores near the officer's home. A search of his house turned up the watch and the refrigerator. The washing machine, Campbell later told police, was given to a friend.

Bill Richardson is a former Mesa detective who is often critical of the Tempe Police Department. He says Campbell never should have been permitted to remove the items from the evidence room in the first place.

In a letter to Tempe officials, Richardson wrote the following:

In all my years of experience and being involved in hundreds and hundreds of felony criminal cases I have never ever taken evidence out of the property/evidence division and personally returned it to a victim. I have never heard of such a thing. It is the duty of the property/evidence custodian to dispose of evidence and seized property not an officer involved in the case.

That said, if there are lose procedures in the property/evidence division of the Tempe PD there maybe other problems relating to misappropriated property and evidence. Phoenix just uncovered a case where a detective was purportedly taking drug evidence to court when he was using the drugs himself. Lax rules, lax supervision lead to police corruption.

When you discover one dirty cop you have to figure there are others who are exploiting the system.

Following his arrest, Campbell resigned from the department. His sentencing is scheduled for October 21.
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9 comments
Realhousewife
Realhousewife

It us so easy for all of you to comment on something you don't know all the facts about. Elliot was lucky to get out of that corrupt Dept when he did. Let 's leave judgement to God, not you. This man and his family will pay the price for bad decisions just like the rest of us.

the bookchuck
the bookchuck

Someone in another recent thread called the cops "...the biggest gang around...". Let's see; helping a Brother out by bending the rules, never seeing any wrong/always looking the other way, covering when needed, always sticking together, and attacking anyone threatening, for any reason whatsoever and by any means necessary... Yep, sounds like 'Sons of Anarchy' to me. We've found our answer to that age-old rhetorical question "Who watches the watchers?"; apparently no one around Tempe's evidence room or in that particular chain of command.

Much as in that teleplay, there are always innocents and good guys and bystanders and the simply ethically ambiguous about, but with plenty of dastards (a cross reference, not a misspelling; from opportunists to actual villains) around to set the tone and lower the bar, they often get tarred by the same dark brush. And this from Tempe, which I've thought of as one of the (relatively) better departments around these parts. Granted, most of my experience has been with much smaller depts., where both courage of conviction and chicanery are multiplied by their inherent scale. I guess the "...few bad apples..." cliche still holds some water, and it may be simply a matter of defining 'few'. Even if the percentage stays the same, an ever-larger scale would seem to lead to greater opportunities for revelation of sub-par ethics.

Another poster asked why it seemed there are/have been so many stories of late about naughty cops; whether shootings and beatings to the West or sex for money or outdoors in broad daylight while in uniform to the East, and other such outrageousness elsewhere. I would venture that the simple answer is; remember those guys in high school that gave almost everyone trouble, just because they could and to feed their egos/power trip? Well, after they got out of the military, they had to go somewhere... Keep in mind, we're talking about the ones with the WRONG motivations here, not the ones with more altruistic or civil-duty types of reasons (read; non-Sociopathic). Whether it's bullying, albeit on a grander or more deadly scale, or just stealing the (taxpayers', crime evidence property owners') lunch money, it's the same old ego-feeding power trip they have been on since we wondered, way back when, "Who would ever give THAT guy a job?". Mandatory Pre-employment Psych tests, anyone? Not that they would do any good in any established 'culture of corruption'...

I second the kudos to Bill and want to point out his best humorous use of an ironic homonym in a post; lose or loose. Either way, that's still screwed up procedure, and probably IS an iceberg's tip or cesspool's leak. And "Lax rules, lax..." just caused me to think of LA's Ramparts scandals, heh. The more things change..."Just move along, nothing to see here"...

"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad."-Aldous Huxley

“We may prefer to think of ourselves as fallen angels, but in reality we are risen apes” –Desmond Morris

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

Cops get all the good stuff.  I envy those bastards.

Walter Concrete
Walter Concrete

Why does he get his charges reduced?   I don't see that happening with regular people.   Pile on the corruption, we haven't had enough.

Coz
Coz

Say Hi to Bubba Campbell, when you get to prison.

Eleanor
Eleanor

Bill Richardson thanks for your comments in this story. 

Bobby
Bobby

He's a lightweight. In Southern Calfornia, the cops beat innocent citizens to death, instead of stealing refrigerators. Unless they're illegal aliens, in which case they kiss their assess and let them go.

Eleanor
Eleanor

Lightweight or not corruption is corruption.  Tempe has so many corruptions issues in the police department starting with the Police Chief, Tom Ryff.  The more bullshit that gets uncovered the more they have to cover up with more lies.

I like to tell Hallmand and council that this is likened to LAPD rampart.  They have allowed, and not by law either, the corruption and lies and disrespect for the citizens and the legitimate police officers in Tempe.  They are the morons who continue to allow Charlie Meyer, Tempe City Manager, to let his employess break the law, harass citizens, lie and who knows what else.  These are the employees in the police department some of them are citizens and others are peace officers although they do not provide peace as in the case of Elliot Campbell.

I met Campbell awhile back when he was an undercover.  I am telling you this because Elliot Campbell told me this and he didn't have a damn clue who I was.  I don't want cops in Tempe who are so lacking in ethics and integrity that they are willing to just tell anybody privileged information.  I know others in this area and I want them to remain protected from such scum cops such as Elliot.

Thanks for the story James, you know I could go on and on with this subject and corrupt cops and their assistants in Tempe. 

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