Antioch, Pittsburg police under investigation for fraudulent college degrees: report

The FBI and the Contra Costa District Attorney are looking into Pittsburg and Antioch police officers trying to fraudulently obtain college degrees to collect pay bumps, the Bay Area News Group reported in an exclusive investigation. 

In March, the two agencies announced they were investigating an unknown number of officers for "crimes of moral turpitude," which can mean almost any crime involving dishonesty or depravity.

Eight months later, the Bay Area News Group learned that some of these officers are being investigated for trying to defraud city governments by obtaining higher-education degrees to increase their salaries. 

Multiple law enforcement sources told that news organization that officers from Pittsburg and Antioch allegedly recruited a woman to take online college courses and pass tests in their names. 

Antioch officers receive a 2.5 percent pay increase for an associate’s degree and 5 percent for a bachelor’s, under the police union contract; the current Pittsburg police agreement includes 5 percent and 10 percent raises for bachelor’s and master’s degrees, respectively, as well as tuition reimbursement, the Bay Area News Group reported.

During this probe, other officers are being investigation for violating civil rights, falsifying reports, using and distributing steroids, using cocaine, and accepting bribes while on patrol.

In a public statement following the story, Antioch Police Chief Steven Ford said that since this issue was brought to the department's attention, his agency has "fully cooperated" with the joint FBI-DA investigation.

"I hold our officers to a high ethical standard," Ford wrote. "And we are taking immediate steps to rebuild trust and improve transparency with our community." 

Indictments are expected in about two weeks.