Cassandra Briggs may have been a good cop, but she wasn’t a very good manager of union funds. This Tuesday, April 3, Briggs was sentenced in Lancaster County (Neb.) District Court to between two and five years in prison for embezzling more than $11,000 from Lincoln Police Union Charities over a more than two-year period. She pleaded guilty this January after leaving the force the previous April. Briggs has until June 3 to turn herself in, and must serve one year before becoming eligible for parole.
Briggs, now 42, began serving with the Lincoln, Nebraska police in 1995. What attracted the attention of local authorities was her side work, specifically, her oversight of her police union’s Santa Cop program, which provides gifts for low-income children. During August 2008-November 2010, court records note, she skimmed funds. Fellow officers investigated her after the union secretary noticed that Santa Cop financial records had discrepancies and missing pages. Briggs resigned from the force in April 2011, just one day before her scheduled administrative hearing. She later was charged with two counts of theft, one of which was dropped as part of her plea agreement. In a separate civil action, the Lincoln Police Union Charities sued Briggs to recover the funds. That case has been settled. In January a district judge approved a judgment of $11,290.48, plus interest. Briggs thus far has paid back $3,000.
For someone with more than a decade and a half of experience as a police officer, stealing from a Christmas fund seems highly abnormal. Court records reveal she had been beset with financial problems, facing lawsuits from hospitals and credit agencies for back payments related to surgeries in mid-decade. “The floor was falling out from under her,” said her attorney, Jerrod Jaeger. The prosecution, however, wasn’t impressed. Deputy County Attorney Holly Parsley pointed out her co-workers gladly would have helped her, had she asked. Briggs, at least, is remorseful. At her sentencing hearing, she apologized to her former colleagues, admitting, “I’ve never pretended to be innocent of this crime.”