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Published: Saturday, 12/4/2010

Ex-Toledo sergeant guilty of bilking city, TPS of $5,532

A former Toledo police sergeant agreed to repay the city and Toledo Public Schools thousands of dollars he accepted for working for both at the same time.

Ova E. Tate, Jr., 54, pleaded no contest and was found guilty in Lucas County Common Pleas Court Friday to a misdemeanor theft charge. As part of the plea, he agreed to reimburse the city of Toledo $3,788.93 and the school district $1,743.50.

He also faces up to six months in prison when sentenced Jan. 12 by Judge James Jensen.

"It was an extreme matter of poor judgment, and it's not indicative of my character," Mr. Tate said after the plea.

"We have a good chief and I apologize for any embarrassment I may have brought to the department, my family, or myself."

A bill of information was filed in September by the Lucas County prosecutor's office charging Mr. Tate with the offense, a first-degree misdemeanor.

According to court documents, the double payment occurred from March 3, 2009, through June 10, 2010.

Authorities said Mr. Tate was paid $32.57 an hour by the police department and collected $23.58 an hour as a security employee from the school district for security work at Summit Annex, an adult education center in downtown Toledo.

John Weglian, chief of the prosecutor's special units division, said the offense involved 79.25 double-billed hours over a period of 21 days.

"An offer was extended because he had no criminal record and restitution would be made," Mr. Weglian said.

"It was our opinion that he should be convicted of a crime. We felt this was a better way of proceeding than offering diversion."

Diversion is designed to allow the participant to complete a program in lieu of being convicted of a crime.

Mr. Tate resigned from the department Sept. 17, avoiding a scheduled disciplinary hearing on administrative charges stemming from an internal investigation into the double-dipping.

Police Chief Michael Navarre said Friday it was made clear Mr. Tate was facing dismissal when the allegations came to light. He said the retirement was not part of the plea agreement.

"I thought this charge was serious enough to warrant termination," the chief said.

Chief Navarre said although the initial investigation was conducted by the department, the prosecutor's office determined how to handle charges. He added he respected the office and the decisions.

Mr. Tate, who joined the department in 1985, by law can keep his pension because he was convicted of a misdemeanor and not a felony.

Contact Erica Blake at: eblake@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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