Pubdate: Sat, 07 Oct 2000
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2000 The Washington Post Company
Contact:  1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071
Author: Tom Jackman, Washington Post Staff Writer


A retired Fairfax County police officer who admitted stealing $330,000 in 
cash from the department over six years was sentenced yesterday to two 
years in federal prison and ordered to repay the money.

Daniel B. Garrett III, 51, pleaded guilty in July to felony theft, and U.S. 
District Judge T.S. Ellis III imposed the maximum possible sentence under 
federal law.

"The harm you've done is incalculable," Ellis told Garrett. "In a six-year 
criminal spree, you demolished the trust and respect that the public should 
have for police officers everywhere, particularly in Fairfax County."

Garrett was Fairfax's asset forfeiture officer from the day the job was 
created in 1989. He was in charge of tracking and disbursing the millions 
of dollars in cash and property seized from suspected drug dealers. When he 
retired in May 1999, after nearly 29 years on the force, his successor 
noticed discrepancies. Fairfax police turned the case over to the FBI.

The FBI found that Garrett had signed out money from the police property 
room nearly 200 times, usually in amounts less than $1,000. But sometimes, 
it was much more. In July 1998, according to court records, Garrett checked 
out $52,371 in cash. He ordered a cashier's check made payable to the 
Fairfax City police for their share of that particular investigation. But 
Garrett kept the remaining $34,914, the records said.

Criminal justice experts said internal police thefts happen occasionally, 
but rarely for long periods and in such large quantity.

Neither investigators nor Garrett would say what he did with the money, 
other than spend it for "personal use." Garrett did not make any statements 
during his brief sentencing hearing.

But later, Garrett accepted responsibility for his actions, and said, "I am 
sorry for the embarrassment that it caused the county."

During his 10 years in asset forfeiture, Garrett said, "I handled roughly 
$5 million. The county got about $4.5 million of that. I did the county a 
lot of good, especially in the lean years in the early '90s, when there 
were budget problems. The money was used for a variety of law enforcement 

But Garrett added: "There was no accountability, ever. There was no 
supervision. That's not an excuse, I understand that." Fairfax police 
commanders said monitoring and supervision procedures have been changed.

In the early 1990s, when Garrett thought he might be transferred out of the 
drug unit, "I realized the lack of accountability. I wasn't worried about 
me, because I wasn't taking the money." He prepared to brief his supervisors.

Instead, Garrett said, "I ended up staying," and he never talked to police 
brass about the problems. "Situations happen," he said. "The temptation's 
there. It's unfortunate for the department."

After he retired last year, Garrett began working as an independent 
courier, and he also continued his volunteer job as a sideline assistant to 
Washington Redskins coach Norv Turner, making sure the coach's headphone 
cord remained untangled. The FBI's investigation began, and Garrett felt 
that "it was just a matter of time," according to his attorney, Alan H. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg, who prosecuted the case, expressed 
disappointment to see Garrett at the defense table. "I have worked with 
Detective Garrett for a long time," Kromberg said, "and it was a shock and 
disappointment to me, and a real blow to the forfeiture system to have this 
happen to someone in a position of trust."

Kromberg said that when the FBI wanted to interview Garrett, he notified 
the retired officer and Garrett "came in the next day." Yamamoto said 
Garrett "didn't try to hide it. He went through the facts, told them how he 
did it, told them what the shortcomings were and how to avoid it in the 

That account only added to the outrage of Fairfax Police Chief J. Thomas 
Manger, who had written a letter to the judge reminding him of the damage 
Garrett's theft had done to the department. "We got next to nothing [from 
Garrett]," Manger said yesterday after the sentencing. "He did not 
cooperate with the police department at all, and was very adamant that he 
was not going to roll over on anybody."

Garrett said that internal affairs investigators wanted him to name other 
culprits inside the department, but that there were none.

"This was not a momentary lapse of judgment," Manger said. "He was a thief, 
year after year, over and over. We recognized from this case that we needed 
to shape up our procedures. But at some level, you've got to trust a cop to 
be honest. If the public doesn't trust you, you can't do your job."
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