Four former Tucson law enforcement officers are now barred from working in law enforcement in Arizona.
In a Wednesday meeting of the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training board, two men reached agreements with the board to voluntarily surrender their peace officer certifications and a third’s has been revoked, said spokeswoman Sandy Sierra.
Without a valid peace officer certification, a person cannot work in law enforcement.
Former Pima County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Christopher Radtke and former Tucson police Officer Daniel Santa Cruz both relinquished their certifications, and the board voted to revoke the certification of former Tucson police Detective Rodolfo Rodriguez Jr., Sierra said.
The board also accepted an agreement with former Tucson police Officer Steven Pupkoff for an 18-month suspension of his certification and voted to initiate proceedings against a fifth former police officer, Jaime Gutierrez, who was fired by TPD twice.
Radtke was indicted in September on federal charges of conspiracy to launder money and theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, after an FBI investigation revealed Radtke had been misusing money seized under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO.
Between 2011 and 2016, Radtke was involved in diverting money intended for crime-fighting purposes for personal use and was accused of embezzling roughly $500,000 of RICO funds for items including restaurant bills, model airplanes and a menu board for a cafe in sheriff’s headquarters, operated by Radtke’s niece.
Earlier this year, Radtke pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of theft of federal funds and in May was sentenced to one year of probation and 100 hours of community service.
As part of his plea agreement, Radtke is barred from seeking work in law enforcement or in Pima County.
Radtke had previously retired from the Sheriff’s Department on Sept. 4, 2015, but was rehired two days later and promoted to the rank of chief deputy.
Upon his retirement, he received a one-time deferred retirement option plan payment of $504,717 and is now receiving an annual pension of nearly $89,000.
Daniel Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz resigned in lieu of termination from TPD in July 2015, after he was discovered to be a customer of a local prostitution ring called By Spanish, according to Arizona Daily Star archives.
An investigation by TPD’s Office of Professional Standards showed Santa Cruz had been in contact with at least 10 suspected massage parlors between February and December 2014, according to AZPOST documents.
Investigators also found roughly 150 points of contact between Santa Cruz’s cellphone and the illegal businesses, including 35 contacts with a woman who advertised massage, house cleaning and organizing, according to the documents.
In December 2015, the AZPOST voted to initiate proceedings against Santa Cruz and in meeting last September, rejected his proposed consent agreement for a two-year suspension of his certification.
Rodolfo Rodriguez Jr.
Rodriguez was fired from TPD last August, after the department determined he failed to conduct complete investigations and submitted inaccurate paperwork, according to AZPOST documents.
Two of the cases involved allegations of child abuse, and Rodriguez conceded to police investigators that the false statement he made in one of the reports could make the case more difficult to prosecute, the civil service records show.
Rodriguez appealed his termination, but the Civil Service Commission voted to uphold his firing.
The board voted in April to initiate proceedings against Pupkoff, who was arrested last June for an off-duty DUI during which he hit a parked car, according to AZPOST records.
A citizen approached the car after the crash and found Pupkoff slumped over the driver’s side with the motor still running and the car in drive, according to the records.
Officers noticed symptoms of impairment, and Pupkoff refused to perform field-sobriety and breathalyzer tests, so he was arrested and taken to a hospital for a blood test, which he also refused.
Officers obtained a phone search warrant to complete the blood draw, which showed Pupkoff had a blood-alcohol content of more than twice the legal limit, according to the records.
Pupkoff pleaded guilty in March to extreme DUI and was ordered to spend 10 days in jail and pay a fine.
Gutierrez was fired from TPD last January, after it was determined he lied to his supervisors and violated multiple department policies, according to AZPOST records.
In May 2015, Gutierrez was at a hospital, guarding the suspect in an officer-involved shooting, when another officer heard the suspect make an incriminating statement to Gutierrez, which he failed to document, the records show.
When confronted by his supervisor, Gutierrez denied doing anything wrong, but said that he knew the suspect was involved in an officer-involved shooting and had planned to write up the report later.
In a later interview, he changed his story and told investigators he wasn’t aware the suspect had been involved in the shooting.
Gutierrez was fired for untruthfulness, but later reinstated by the city’s Civil Service Commission.
At the time, Gutierrez was also under investigation for a second incident that took place in May 2015, in which he failed to report the use of force on a suspect in a domestic-violence call, AZPOST records show.
While the force was found to be justified, Gutierrez released the suspect without charging him, despite the fact that several other officers at the scene had discussed charging the man with multiple offenses, the records show.
Gutierrez was found to have lied about the situation to his supervisor and investigators and was fired again.
He appealed the decision, but the Civil Service Commission upheld the department’s decision.
Gutierrez will receive a letter from AZPOST notifying him of the charges, after which he will have the opportunity for his case to be heard before an administrative court judge.
Contact reporter Caitlin Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4191. Twitter: @caitlinschmidt