HAMMOND — A veteran East Chicago police officer is prepared to admit he stole tens of thousands of dollars from his fellow officers.
The U.S. Attorney’s office is charging Francisco Aleman with defrauding the Fraternal Order of Police’s Lodge 59 in East Chicago between 2016 and 2019 when he was its treasurer.
A federal court affidavit details dozens of times Aleman illegally diverted large sums of money from the FOP’s bank account to his personal bank accounts.
Court records state Aleman has signed an agreement with federal prosecutors, stating he will plead guilty to wire fraud, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
He is agreeing to give up his right to a jury trial in return for prosecutors recommending he receive a more lenient sentence.
It states he also is agreeing to forfeit the stolen money and pay $70,151 in restitution to the FOP lodge.
No date had been set for his formal appearance before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Andrew P. Rodovich.
The charges arise from an investigation begun two years ago by state police and the FBI’s Organized Crime and Corruption Unit.
East Chicago FOP members complained their dues were not being paid into to the state FOP’s organization’s Legal Defense Fund.
The defense fund, which assists police officers facing civil litigation, is one of several services the FOP provides its members.
Suspicion focused on Aleman, who oversaw financial matters for the East Chicago FOP lodge.
East Chicago police said in late 2019 that Aleman denied wrongdoing, but suspended Aleman, a 14-year veteran of the force, from police duties, with pay, because of the seriousness of the allegations against him.
State records indicate Aleman was still on the East Chicago payroll in 2020.
East Chicago police and the Aleman’s attorney couldn’t be reached Thursday for comment on his current status with the police department.