It’s an all-too-familiar story: A cop enforces the law, but breaks it on the side by dipping into his union’s till. Last Friday, March 24, Christopher Hayes, a former police sergeant with the Newport, R.I. police department, was charged in Providence federal court with wire fraud in the sum of more than $70,000 against Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge No. 8, where he had served as president for several years. At his arraignment hearing, he initially pleaded “not guilty,” but quickly changed his plea to “guilty.” Hayes was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General, assisted by the Rhode Island State Police.
According to court documents, Hayes, 49, a resident of Middletown, R.I., during August 2009-December 2014 used his union debit card to pay for personal expenses; wrote checks payable to himself from the FOP bank account; withdrew cash from the FOP bank account for his own use; and used union funds to pay off personal credit card debt. The grand total of thefts was $71,523. A subsequent Labor Department probe traced missing union funds to Hayes’ actions. His attorney, Pamela Chin, puts it this way: “Mr. Hayes has been cooperating with the investigations from the beginning…We’re looking forward to getting resolution through the court system.” Current FOP Lodge 8 President Jason Brown is focused on rank and file getting their money back. “A goal of ours has always been to recoup the money that was taken,” he said, “and we are hopeful there will be restitution made to the members of this union.” He’s more than likely to get his wish.