FORT WORTH — A police officer recently fired on accusations that he stole more than $20,000 from a business bank account to pay for rent, utilities and jewelry was indicted Thursday on a theft charge, Tarrant County court records show.Lovon Ponder Jr. was indefinitely suspended Aug. 23, according to a disciplinary letter filed late last month with the Civil Service Commission and obtained Wednesday by the Star-Telegram.Ponder, a former football player at the University of Miami, has appealed his termination.Tarrant County court records show Ponder was indicted Thursday on a charge of theft of property valued between $20,000 and $100,000, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.Because prosecutors handled the case as a direct indicment, Ponder had not previously been arrested in the case. Vincent Wisely, who is representing Ponder in his termination appeal, did not return messages seeking comment. Court records do not list a criminal defense attorney for Ponder.Ponder confessed to investigators that he had obtained the routing and account number of Liberty Medical Supply after the business mailed a refund check to his apartment in a former tenant’s name, according to the disciplinary letter, signed by Police Chief Jeff Halstead.Ponder told investigators that he then used the business account to pay his bills online, the letter states.In all, police allege more than $22,100 was fraudulently deducted from the account over a year period beginning in January 2012. Ponder used the money to pay for rent totaling more than $19,000, energy and cable bills, and more than $900 to Jared Jewelers, the letter states.An apartment manager reported the suspected crime to the police department in March, the letter states.The letter states that Ponder confessed to committing the felony. He had not been charged with any crime as of Wednesday.“The officer admitted to every allegation of misconduct within the internal investigation,” Halstead said in a statement released Wednesday night. “His decisions violated the ethics of our profession and will never be tolerated. In order to preserve the public’s trust, we have completed a criminal investigation and have submitted the case to the district attorney’s office.”Tarrant County court records show Ponder was evicted from his apartment in February and ordered to pay almost $7,000 to one of two Fort Worth apartments that he had allegedly been paying rent to from the unauthorized business account. Ponder played safety for the University of Miami Hurricanes football team between 2004 and 2008, according to the team’s website. He was hired by the police department in October 2011 and was assigned to the North Division as a patrol officer.
Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655 Twitter: @deannaboyd