OCEANSIDE — A San Diego Superior Court judge on Nov. 12 ordered a police sergeant be remanded to custody relating to charges that he received thousands of dollars in stolen property from an embezzlement scheme that targeted an Oceanside company.
Judge Joe Littlejohn denied Walter Willis McWilson’s attorney’s request to have his client remain free on his own recognizance, and set McWilson’s bail at $150,000.
McWilson, a 10-year veteran and crisis negotiator with the Oceanside Police Department, pleaded not guilty to more than a dozen theft related charges in connection to purchases for his home music studio made through his former girlfriend, Aimee Rich, who had been embezzling money from her employer, Royal Pacific Construction.
The 37-year-old McWilson is charged with seven counts of receiving stolen property, six counts of grand theft and one count of conspiracy to defraud another of property, according to court documents. The alleged thefts occurred over a one-year period from 2006 to 2007 and exceeded $50,000.
Several of McWilson’s family members, who were at the arraignment, declined a request to comment on the case as did his attorney, James Bishop.
McWilson, of Murrieta, posted bail several hours after the brief hearing.
His next scheduled court appearance is Nov. 23. A preliminary hearing was set for Dec. 9. Rich has pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges and is awaiting sentencing.
In a declaration in support of the arrest warrant, Oceanside police Detective Micheal Brown wrote McWilson had initially come to him asking about the case against Rich in August 2008.
According to the arrest warrant, Rich had used the company’s lines of credit to purchase merchandise for herself and friends as well as issued checks totaling nearly $40,000 to her friends for work that was never completed.
During Brown’s conversation with McWilson, he stated in the affidavit that the officer never admitted to receiving gifts from Rich.
Brown said McWilson’s involvement in the case began to take shape when they seized a receipt for a mattress from Rich’s residence that had McWilson’s name on it.
After being confronted about the mattress receipt in December 2008, Brown stated McWilson admitted to receiving gifts from Rich, but continued to withhold information and stolen property from police up until May 2009.
In her bail request, Deputy District Attorney Anna Winn told the judge McWilson asked Rich to purchase items for his music studio on her company credit cards. Eventually, he had Rich start buying $100 Home Depot gift cards to further hide the crime, Winn said.
She said one of the most egregious aspects of McWilson’s crime was selling a flat-screen television to his neighbor, which had been purchased through the company’s credit card.
“Sgt. McWilson told his neighbors that he could get them a TV for a good price if they provided him cash,” Brown stated in the arrest warrant. “They provided Sgt. McWilson with $1,200 in cash and shortly thereafter, Sgt. McWilson came to their residence with a TV still in the box.”
In 1993, McWilson was arrested for evading police. He eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge, which was later expunged from his criminal record.
McWilson was placed on administrative leave from the police department in August, authorities said. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.