Two former police officers from San Jose, California might be facing a jail conviction after they pleaded guilty on Friday of stealing over $100,000 from their own Latino scholarship fund, reported the San Jose Mercury News.
Manuel Villagrana and Marco Ybarra, both former members of the Latino Police Officers Association of Santa Clara County, were charged in October with one count of felony grand theft from the San Jose chapter of the National Latino Peace Officers Association (NLPOA), according to a News Release by the Office of the District Attorney.
Their hearing is scheduled for the end of April.
In October of 2011 a criminal complaint was filled against Villagrana and Ybarra following a nine-month investigation by the San Jose Police Department.
The police officers allegedly stole from the fund separately and on different occasions.
From 2005 to 2006 Ybarra, who was the treasurer of the San Jose NLPOA chapter, supposedly withdrew a total of $19,900 in cash from the NLPOA's credit union account. He also issued himself two $10,000 checks from the funds and deposited it into his personal account.
As for Villagrana, he allegedly withdrew $83,900 in cash for his personal benefit from 2007 to 2009, while he held the position as President of the San Jose Chapter.
"We were embarrassed because of the shame it brought on law enforcement in general and Latino peace officers in particular," said Noe Longoria, a retired San Jose officer and founding member of the association, to the San Jose Mercury News. "But the ones who were hurt the most were the kids who needed scholarships."
Founded in 1974, the NLPOA is a national non-profit organization which seeks "to eliminate prejudice and discrimination in the criminal justice system; particularly Law Enforcement, reduce community juvenile delinquency and lessen citizen tension in predominantly Latino communities." With local chapters throughout the country, National Latino Peace Officers Association is the largest Latino Law Enforcement Organizations in the U.S.
NLPOA works with many charitable endeavors. One of their main projects is awarding scholarships to minority students. The NLPOA chapters raise money by soliciting donations from individuals and corporations, hosting fundraising events, and collecting annual dues from its members.