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IMPD sergeant arrested on official misconduct charge for alleged auto fraud

Posted: 5:05 PM, May 31, 2018
Updated: 2018-06-01 06:14:31Z
IMPD sergeant arrested on misconduct charge

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis police arrested a 31-year veteran of their own department Thursday on charges of official misconduct.

Sgt. Charles Butler, 55, was charged Thursday in Marion County with one count of official misconduct, a level 6 felony, for allegedly signing fraudulent VIN inspection forms.

According to IMPD, for more than a year Butler signed inspection forms at Mid America Auto Sales for salvaged or wrecked vehicles without inspecting the vehicle itself. In return, investigators allege Butler was compensated by the auto dealer as much as $100-$150 per title he signed.

Indiana law allows police to charge up to $5 for vehicle inspections, but that money is to be deposited in a local law enforcement continuing education fund.

In a probable cause affidavit filed Thursday, police say Butler ran more than 380 VIN checks for the business between January 2016 and May 2017 -- including at least eight stolen cars, which Butler allegedly failed to report. 

During that period, detectives were monitoring Butler's movements at the business. According to the affidavit, Butler would sign papers without ever inspecting vehicles, and would take a fraction of the time a normal trained vehicle inspector would.

Investigators began looking at Butler’s alleged actions in October 2016 – eventually culminating in search warrants being executed at the business and on his cellphones.

On May 15, 2017, an IMPD investigator called Butler and told him he was the target of a criminal investigation, and that the investigator wanted to speak with him when he returned from vacation. According to the affidavit, Butler’s phone records showed that three days later he conducted an Internet search on his cellphone for “Indiana statute official misconduct.”

Chief Bryan Roach placed Butler on administrative duty in July 2017. According to the department, Butler, who has been an Indianapolis police officer since 1986, submitted his intent to retire from IMPD on Thursday.

Marion County Jail records show Butler was released Thursday afternoon on his own recognizance. A pretrial conference was scheduled for July 3 at 9 a.m.

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