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West Valley police officer suspended for mishandling drug money

Published: Thursday, Jan. 2 2014 4:33 p.m. MST

The West Valley City Police Department disciplined an officer in October for mishandling money in a drug investigation, according to Chief Lee Russo.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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WEST VALLEY CITY — The police department disciplined an officer in October for mishandling money in a drug investigation, according to Chief Lee Russo.

West Valley City Police Sgt. Jason Hauer, the department's former public information officer, was suspended for 40 hours without pay, Russo said.

In 2010, Hauer wrongly hung on to money from a drug informant and used about $500 of that money in an undercover drug transaction, the chief said.

"He thought at the time he was able to do so," Russo said.

There was no evidence to suggest Hauer pocketed the money for his own use. But according to an Internal Affairs report the Deseret News received through a Government Records Access and Management Act request, "(Hauer) failed to appropriately document the personal monies of the confidential informant that you were holding in your custody and control. Although eventually $1,200 of the informant's money was returned to her, $111 of the informant's money remains unaccounted for."

A citizens review board recommended more training for Hauer. Russo, however, implemented the suspension, saying the incident "needed to be dealt with more formally."

"It was evident in your predisciplinary meeting you did not seem to grasp the gravity of the situation and failed to recognize the consequences your poor decisions had on the confidential informant," Russo wrote in his suspension letter to Hauer.

But Russo said the incident is now in the past, and Hauer is back working with the department. The chief said he doesn't believe the officer purposely did anything to be deceitful.

"(The incident) wasn't criminal at all," he said.

Russo described the incident as more of an "accounting" issue.

Credibility issues with the former Neighborhood Narcotics Unit led to 124 state and federal cases being thrown out in 2013. An investigation found that members of the former drug unit had improperly used evidence, confidential informants and GPS tracking. Nine officers were placed on administrative leave at one point.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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