Editor's Note: A previous version of this story started Lt. Crooks was demoted as the head of the FACT team. According to Crooks’ attorney, he was briefly removed from the position for a period of 90 days and was then reinstated.
INDIANAPOLIS — A lieutenant with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has been accused of taking a gold coin from a police property room.
Lt. George Crooks, a 31-year veteran of IMPD, has been suspended without pay and formally charged with theft and official misconduct after investigators claim he entered the IMPD Property Room on Aug. 16, 2018 and took a gold coin that had been held for forfeiture in a different investigation. At the time of the charges, Crooks was in charge of the IMPD Property Room and all personnel assigned here.
When investigators interviewed the IMPD Property Room supervisor, she told them he occasionally assisted in counting the money in the room. She told police he was “always looking for coins and he found a coin that he traded out,” according to the probable cause document. She told police he opened an envelop containing the coin and said, “I want that coin.”
She said he then took the coin and swapped it out with a $20 bill from his pocket, according to court documents. She also said she knew of at least one other time where he exchanged his money for either a 50-cent coin or silver dollar. She told investigators she changed the gold coin in the system to a $20 bill, for the deposit amount to balance.
She also told police that Crooks had once told her, “If you find any coins in the count, don’t forget me.”
The IMPD investigator also interviewed the man involved in the previous incident, where the coin was seized by police. He was shown photographs of his belongings and asked if anything was missing. The man said he didn’t see his "lucky gold coin" in the pictures.
The man told investigators be bought it online for $13, but believed it was worth between $100-$120, the documents state.
The investigator also interviewed the late shift IMPD Property Room supervisor, who said she witnessed Crooks switch out gold coins for $20 in cash.
In 2010, Crooks was briefly removed by IMPD following the fatal crash involving former IMPD Officer David Bisard. At the time of the crash, he was the head of the Fatal Alcohol Crash Team.
Crooks' attorney, Bradley Keffer, released the following statement on the incident:
For over 30 years, George Crooks has served as a law enforcement officer in Indianapolis for both the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. In his career, amongst his many responsibilities, George has served as a patrol officer, investigator, headed the Fatal Alcohol Crash Team, and supervised the unit responsible for investigating corrupt officers. Until recently, George was looking forward to peacefully retiring at the end of this year after a long career serving the community. George was disheartened to hear of the allegations against him and believes the version of events being presented to the public is one-sided and leaves out a great deal of critical information. George looks forward to thoroughly investigating these claims and then presenting the full truth behind these allegations.
IMPD Chief Bryan Roach has released the following statement on the incident:
As a result of a self-initiated criminal investigation conducted by the IMPD Special Investigations Unit, formal charges have been submitted to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office for Lieutenant George Crooks. George Crooks has been suspended without pay with a recommendation to the Civilian Police Merit Board of his termination of employment with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Crooks is a 31-year veteran of the police department and last served as a supervisor overseeing IMPD’s property room.
The men and women of IMPD remain committed to upholding the policies, values and mission of the IMPD. It is our goal that this expectation is reflected through legitimacy and trust built between our officers and the community we serve.