New Orleans, LA — A good Samaritan in New Orleans did the right thing last week when he found a wallet, reportedly full of money, and turned it in to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. This person’s good deed would be stopped in its tracks however, after the deputy who took the wallet into evidence, allegedly stole the money right out of it.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy Justin Vappie, 34, was arrested, charged, and booked Monday with malfeasance in office for allegedly stealing the cash, according to Capt. Jason Rivarde, spokesman for the department.
According to police, the citizen found the wallet in Metairie — which is just outside New Orleans — and turned it in to police. According to Rivarde, Vappie, a patrol deputy with the 1st District on Jefferson Parish’s east bank, was dispatched about 1:40 p.m. to collect the wallet, which contained a “known amount of money.”
When the wallet finally made it to the station and was logged into the property and evidence department, it was much lighter. Though the JPSO did not reveal how it knew how much money was in the wallet, they said they knew exactly how much was in it, prior to Vappie taking some.
According to NOLA.com, the department immediately opened an investigation and determined that Vappie had taken the missing money, authorities said. He was booked into the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in Gretna where he is being held without bond.
After his arrest, Vappie, who had been with the department since April 2019, was fired.
If Vappie is found guilty of the alleged crimes, it is highly unlikely that he will face any jail time. While stealing cash from a turned-in wallet may seem like a petty offense, it is a betrayal of public trust when a cop does it.
Instead of being handed down a lighter sentence for his alleged crimes, because he betrayed the trust of the people he serves, if found guilty, Vappie should receive a much heftier sentence. Sadly, that is almost never the case.
In fact, TFTP reported on a similar story in which a cop was caught on his own body camera stealing money from a man he arrested during a traffic stop — and received a slap on the wrist.
Deputy John Braman, formerly with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, was charged in 2017 after he was caught stealing money from a man he arrested.
The 35-year-old former deputy recently entered no contest pleas to petty theft, official misconduct and grand theft for the crimes he recorded himself committing. However, he received no jail.
What’s more, as the Chron reports, Braman was also sentenced to time served for misdemeanor charges, though computer records don’t show Braman spent any time jailed on the charges.
Prior to his arrest in 2017, Braman had a history of complaints filed by people he’d arrested — who all claimed he robbed them. However, not until this theft was caught on video did his department do anything about it.
After he was caught, Braman turned in his resignation after body camera footage — from his own body camera — showed him going through a man’s wallet, take out money, and throw it into the trunk.
Before Braman and Vappie, in November 2016, a Denver cop was arrested and suspended without pay after his own body camera footage caught him stealing $1,200 in cash from a crash victim.
Instead of helping an unconscious crash victim, officer Julian Archuleta took advantage of the situation for his own personal gain by going through the man’s clothing and robbing him. Archuleta now faces charges of misdemeanor theft, 1st-degree official misconduct and tampering with physical evidence.
Grants Police Department Sgt. Roshern C. McKinney, 33, was arrested in August 2016 after an investigation found that he’d stolen both money and marijuana from the police department. McKinney has since been charged with marijuana distribution, conspiracy, and felony embezzlement — after he recorded himself on his body camera stealing from the evidence locker.