Colton Cop Accused of Victimizing His Fellow Officers
By Jesse B. Gill
The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office on Friday filed felony charges against 45-year-old Wesley Bruhn, a corporal with the Colton Police Department. He served as treasurer for the Colton Police Officers Association (CPOA), a union he previously led as president.
Prosecutors say Bruhn used his union position to embezzle more than $165,000 since 2008. He’s been hit with five counts of grand theft and one count of felony forgery.
Colton police elected Bruhn as a union official back in 2008, and following an audit in August by CPOA brass, it was revealed that Bruhn started stealing pretty much right away, said Rich Randolph, who now serves as the union’s president.
And now, Randolph and the membership of the union which you’ll remember are, you know, cops—are feeling a bit beat up.
“We’re going through a hard time,” Randolph said Sunday.
Everything happened pretty quickly after the audit was completed, he said.
Once Randolph and the other union officials received their audit results that suggested Bruhn as the guy who made the money disappear from union coffers, they contacted county authorities.
Colton police put Bruhn on administrative leave (also a standard move), and the CPOA booted him from their ranks.
Cops aren’t great at playing the victim. Their jobs are such that they’re always trying to either prevent people from becoming victims or helping get justice after they’ve already been victimized.
So that places the CPOA’s membership in the odd position of trying to cope with being made victims, Randolph said. Not only that, he said, but the guy who did the victimizing was one of their own—someone they trusted enough to put in a position of responsibility.
“When someone does something like this, it’s like your brother, it’s someone you trusted,” Randolph said.
But the Colton police union isn’t alone. What Bruhn (allegedly) did is rare, Randolph said, but it’s not unprecedented.
Redondo Beach police officer Glen Tomatani was sentenced to jail time and probation in 2010 after pleading guilty to embezzling $70,000 from that city’s police union. Like Bruhn, Tomatani had access to the union’s funds as treasurer and president.
Prosecutors in October accused civilian office manager Cindy Ann Su’a with stealing more than $360,000 from the Anaheim Police Association. She’s been charged with 117 counts of forgery, 23 counts of computer fraud and two counts of purposefully failing to file tax returns. She’s facing up to 99 years in prison.
After the District Attorney’s Office filed charges against Bruhn Friday, the Anaheim and Redondo Beach police unions (among others) reached out to the CPOA to offer their support, Randolph said. And it’s helped the union’s members deal with being (allegedly) hosed by one of their own.
“We’ve received an outpouring of support from neighboring agencies,” Randolph said. “We’ve been very impressed with the support we’ve gotten.”
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department stepped in to handle the investigation, a standard move to help the Colton Police Department avoid any semblance of conflict of interest.
Of course, Bruhn will have his chance to prove he didn’t commit the crimes against his union that prosecutors allege he did. But he hasn’t been arrested yet.
The District Attorney’s Office issued a warrant for Bruhn’s arrest and as of Sunday afternoon, he had not yet been taken into custody. A date for his arraignment has not yet been set.
Bruhn will have time to turn himself in, and if he does, an arraignment date will be set almost immediately. If he doesn’t, he could make his legal fight more difficult.
Either way, Randolph and the CPOA just want things to get back to normal.
“We’re just hoping everything movies forward,” he said.
Contact Jesse B. Gill at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @IEW_WatchDog.