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Published: Wednesday, 2/10/2010

Retired Sylvania officer who stole on job gets early release

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

After serving nearly nine months of the sentence, Beckman was granted judicial release yesterday and was ordered to serve five years on community control.

Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Ruth Ann Franks said she granted Beckman's request because he had a clean record, has paid back the stolen funds, and city officials did not object.

But she issued a stern warning to Beckman that the court and the community expected more from him after his release.

"Mr. Beckman, I hope you have come back rehabilitated in the sense that you go back to the man you were when you rose your hand and took the oath of office, and not when you rose your hand and dipped it into the till of the community," the judge said.

Beckman, 59, was sentenced to three years in prison and fined $7,500 on May 14. He pleaded guilty in March to one count of theft in office for pilfering money seized as evidence over a period of more than 10 years.

In total, he took $29,112.49, which he paid back before his sentencing.

Judge Franks noted yesterday that Beckman spent his months in prison taking college classes and helping others by tutoring. She ordered that he complete 300 hours of community service as part of his community control and that he continue with his pursuit of higher education.

Judge Ruth Ann Franks says Beckman has a clean record and has repaid the money. Judge Ruth Ann Franks says Beckman has a clean record and has repaid the money.
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Beckman told Judge Franks he hopes to pursue a career in computers and music.

Beckman retired from the Sylvania Police Department in February, 2009, just days before he was indicted on the felony charge. He was hired in April, 1973, and was put in charge of the property room in 1988.

He admitted during his plea he took money from the property-room safe dating to 1996. The property room houses all evidence seized during crime investigations, including cash taken from suspects.

He said yesterday he would use the support of family and friends to make the rest of his life positive. But when asked why he took the money, he said he didn't know.

"I don't know that I have a good explanation for that," he told the judge. "I just feel there were times that I needed money and didn't have it."

Attorney Dick Roberts first filed for judicial release in November, after Beckman served six months of his term. Judge Franks said she did not order a release hearing then because she wanted Beckman to feel the punitive impact of her sentence by spending the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year holidays away from home. But now, she added, Beckman had been sufficiently punished for his crime.

Mr. Roberts said Beckman took the opportunity in prison to do "exactly what he has to do." He said he believes Beckman is now ready to "move on."

"It was appropriate in this case," Mr. Roberts said of his motion for judicial release. "He didn't have a spot on his record, he hadn't made any mistakes before. I don't think he'll make them again."

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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