20-year La Verne police veteran subject of investigation

LA VERNE – A 20-year veteran of the La Verne Police Department is being investigated for suspected misappropriation of public funds, La Verne’s police chief said Tuesday.

Former narcotics detective Steve DeLuca, 49, of Upland was fired recently when the department opened an investigation into whether he falsified overtime reports last year, La Verne police Chief Steve Pickwith said.

“At this point, we are simply looking into investigating the possibility of misappropriation of public funds,” Pickwith said. “We are looking at a criminal investigation to substantiate that.”

Attempts to reach DeLuca were unsuccessful. Messages left with DeLuca’s attorney seeking comment were not returned Tuesday. DeLuca has not been arrested.

Pickwith declined to comment on how much money may be involved, saying it could compromise the investigation.

He would not say when or if charges would be filed with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Pickwith also declined to comment on how the department first learned of the allegations, and whether DeLuca had any previous disciplinary actions against him.

Pickwith, who has also been with the department 20 years, said DeLuca generally “has been a good employee.”

DeLuca was commended by the county’s Board of Supervisors in 2003 for breaking up a drug ring based in La Puente that was selling drugs in the city and other communities, according to county records.

La Verne Mayor Don Kendrick said he was unaware of the investigation.

“There are lots of things I can answer questions (about), but this is not one of them,” he said.

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