A veteran Reading police officer is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from his own department to support his gambling habit.
Jodi Royer surrendered to authorities Wednesday. The nearly 24-year veteran of the force has been charged with a number of offenses, including theft by unlawful taking or disposition, theft by deception, receiving stolen property and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.
"He's a long-time employee. We never expected anything like this from Ofc. Royer," said Chief Bill Heim, Reading Police Dept.
"This is a sad day for law enforcement," said Berks County District Attorney John Adams during a news conference.
Royer, 47, of Lower Heidelberg Township, joined the department in 1990 and was assigned to the evidence unit in 2011.
Allegations were raised in March of this year after seized money went missing from the unit. Berks County Detectives conducted an audit of the evidence room and found several criminal cases were tampered with, and $14,484 is unaccounted for.
"The defendant was caught replacing U.S. currency from evidence of a criminal case that he had taken for his own personal use," said Adams.
The money was replaced after Royer was questioned by his supervisor, but a red flag was raised because the denomination of bills was different from before, and several of them were not in circulation at the time of the incident, said officials.
"We have no information that any evidence, guns or drugs were taken or compromised," said Adams, who added this theft will not hamper and criminal prosecutions.
According to court documents, Royer used the stolen money for gambling. They stated he bought scratch-off tickets from the Sunoco gas station in Spring Township and made trips to casinos.
"The action betrays the trust of the department, fellow officers and the community," said Heim.
Royer is currently on medical leave, but the department will be filing internal charges, which will place him on suspension with the intent to dismiss, Heim said.
If convicted, Royer could spend up to seven years in prison.