Officer accused of grand theft
By TAMARA LUSH, Times Staff Writer
TAMPA -- A 13-year veteran of the Tampa Police Department was charged Thursday with grand theft for stealing money orders from a man while arresting him, authorities said.
Lawrence Christian, 43, has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of an administrative investigation.
"To my knowledge, he has a good history with Tampa police," said department spokeswoman Katie Hughes. "It's quite a surprise."
The theft happened on April 28, Hughes said.
Christian arrested a man on West Shore Boulevard. The man had two money orders in his possession, totaling $534.32.
The "payable to" sections of the money orders were blank, and Christian took the checks and wrote his name on them, authorities said.
Christian then allegedly cashed the money orders with the help of another person, who was not named. Hughes said the investigation is continuing.
The investigation began after the man Christian arrested told officers that Christian took his money orders, Hughes said. He was not named.
Christian was arrested at the department's District One office, where he works as a patrol officer. The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office is involved in the investigation, officials said.
Christian was held at the Hillsborough County Jail in lieu of $2,500 bail.
He is the second Tampa police officer to be arrested in a week.
On Sept. 13, Officer Lewis Simpson was charged with window peeping and stalking after detectives saw him peering into a woman's window.
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