Hazelwood, Missouri – A police dispatcher who was praised for her efforts to raise money for an officer paralyzed in the line of duty was arrested and led out of police headquarters in handcuffs on Nov. 13 amid an investigated she stole some of the funds.
April Briscuso, 40, was arrested on suspicion of stealing more than $750 meant for former Hazelwood Officer Craig Tudor.
Briscuso was not immediately charged, but was released later in the day, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Hazelwood Police Chief Gregg Hall said he could not comment on the ongoing investigation, so it’s unclear how much money Briscuso could have stolen. Briscuso sent a Facebook message to a reporter that stated she had raised more than $75,000 on Tudor’s behalf, the newspaper reported. The the injured officer said his family has received nowhere near that amount.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that it was unclear whether Briscuso would be charged or if the matter would be resolved through restitution. The St. Louis County police are handling the investigation.
In Facebook messages to a reporter, Briscuso said "I'm getting it all to him" when asked whether she had given Tudor all of the money she raised for the paralyzed officer, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"I did a hell of a lot of work for him and raised over $75,000 plus time and work. I got desperate on my bills and used some money but had every intention on payin' him back ... I am not a criminal ... I just made a mistake but plan on paying him every dime no question. He will not be betrayed by me,” Briscuso told the newspaper.
However, Tudor said he felt betrayed.
"It's really not about the money for us, it's about the deceitfulness," Tudor said.
"This has been one tough year and now we have to deal with a situation with someone who is supposed to be helping," Tudor added. "And when people hear stuff like this, they get apprehensive about other officers having fundraisers going on."
Officer Tudor was out on a call for assistance on Aug. 25, 2016 when his patrol car collided with another car. Officer Tudor’s car went off the road and overturned.
Danielle Banks, the driver in the car that hit Officer Tudor’s vehicle, was trying to turn into a shopping center when she struck the side of the officer’s car.
Tudor, 37, was paralyzed from the chest down.
If you're concerned about the fundraising for an officer, the non-profit OfficerDown.US conducts full vetting on all of their campaigns to ensure that the money gets to the people who need it.
Do you think that people who steal from fundraisers should be punished more harshly than other thieves? We'd like to hear from you. Please let us know in the comments.