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EC police officer indicted in ghost payroll scheme

Maps

Updated: March 10, 2013 6:16AM



An East Chicago police detective was a busy man during the past few years, working security at the BP Whiting refinery and two local public housing sites while also holding down his job with the police station.

A federal indictment charges that Robert Aponte, 42, of Chesterton, actually worked his jobs at the same time, charging his employers for times when he was actually working for someone else.

He now faces six charges of mail fraud and six charges of wire fraud claiming he illegally received $3,744 in payment for work he didn’t actually do.

Aponte has worked for the East Chicago Police Department for 19 years, including eight years with the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force.

Police officers also routinely work part-time security jobs during their off hours, and the Eat Chicago Housing Authority paid him $20 an hour to provide security at its West Calumet Housing Project. Trillium Properties also hired him to watch over its Lakeside Gardens and Harborside Apartments, paying him $25 an hour to do so.

Aponte also took a part-time job with Safety Training and Tracing to provide traffic control for BP employees as they came and left the Whiting refinery. STT paid him $40 and hour.

Instead of working each part-time job individually from 2009 to 2011, however, Aponte would overlap his shifts, the indictment claims. For instance, he would schedule a shift with the Housing Authority for the same time he had a shift at BP. He would then leave the Housing Authority job to go provide security at BP even though he was still charging the Housing Authority for those hours.

He pulled similar schemes between his jobs at the Housing Authority and Trillium, according to the indictment.

The charges are connected to the paychecks he received from his jobs.

The indictment does not say that Aponte worked any of the part-time jobs while he was on police duty.

Aponte faces up to 20 years in the case, which is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago although it will be tried in the U.S. District Court in Hammond. A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Hammond, which normally handles criminal cases in Northern Indiana, does not say why the case was given to a federal attorney in Chicago.

Aponte is the second East Chicago police officer to be charged recently. Juda Parks, who also serves on the East Chicago City Council, was charged last year with not filing a federal income tax return. He has agreed to plead guilty and will be sentenced Feb. 25.



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