Fraud charge dropped against Fort Worth deputy marshal

Posted Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Fraud charges were dropped Thursday against a deputy city marshal who was arrested last week on accusations that he withdrew $500 from another person’s savings account, city officials said.

Authorities said Thursday that a clerical error led to a withdrawal from the wrong account at the Fort Worth City Credit Union and that Sgt. Mike Martinez Jr. was misidentified “as the person accused of fraud.”

“Police investigators and the credit union have concluded that no offense was committed,” said city spokesman Bill Begley in an email Thursday.

Martinez, 45 of Fort Worth, will remain on paid administrative leave until the process to formally drop the charges is completed by the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office, Begley said.

Martinez could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Officials in the department’s public relations office on Thursday were asked if investigators had taken steps before the arrest to verify the credit union’s claims against Martinez. They also were asked if there would be an internal investigation of how the case was handled.

A response had not been received late Thursday from the officials who said they were busy with other police matters.

“There was no misconduct on the part of the investigators,” Begley said in an email earlier in the day. “They acted on credible information provided by the credit union.”

Ron Fox, president of the credit union, said he could not say much but that Martinez “did not do anything wrong.”

“In short, we supplied police with items they requested and it just happened really fast,” Fox said.

The credit union “looked into it further” and “discovered it was not Mr. Martinez,” Fox said.

He described the arrest as a “really unfortunate incident.”

“I just hate it for Mr. Martinez,” Fox said.

Police investigators were notified Wednesday by the Fort Worth City Credit Union and told that information provided in the investigation had misidentified Martinez as the person accused of the fraud, Begley said.

A subsequent investigation indicated that a different bank customer with a name similar to the victim had withdrawn money and that a clerical error in identifying the correct account had occurred, Begley said.

Police now consider the criminal investigation closed.

Martinez had been placed on leave with pay earlier this month after being questioned by detectives about the money.

A customer had reported to the credit union that someone withdrew $500 from his savings account on Sept. 6, and the investigation led to Martinez, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by the Star-Telegram this week.

The victim, who told authorities that he mostly did his banking online, noticed the $500 withdrawal on a quarterly statement and went to the credit union. He was shown a receipt revealing that a person had copied his signature, according to the affidavit, and there were obvious differences in the signatures.

The warrant identified the suspect as Martinez, a deputy with the city’s marshal division. Deputies in this division are responsible for finding residents with warrants and bringing them to court.

According to the warrant, Martinez was “very unconcerned” during an interview with detectives.

The affidavit says the victim filed a police report and was allowed to view a video of the Sept. 6 transaction, which showed a suspect driving a vehicle marked with “City of Fort Worth Marshals” insignia.

Detectives contacted City Marshal David Camp, who told them that two officers were on duty that day, Martinez and another deputy. The other deputy signed out on the vehicle seen on the video and was ruled out as a suspect based on the video evidence.

That deputy told authorities that Martinez was incapable of committing such a crime. But when shown the video, the deputy identified Martinez as the driver. Camp also told police that the person conducting the transaction in the video was Martinez.

Martinez acknowledged driving the vehicle identified in the video but insisted that there must be a mistake and said he “would not” do such a thing.

He also told detectives that he did not remember having an “extra $500” that day.

Staff writer Bill Miller contributed to this report.

Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763 Twitter: @mingoramirezjr

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