A longtime Merced police detective used police union funds to finance trips to Las Vegas, where he rented a limousine as part of a pattern of embezzlement and misappropriation of union money, according to allegations detailed by the California Attorney General in an affidavit for a search warrant.
Former Merced Detective Joe Deliman is under investigation by the state Attorney General's Office for allegedly embezzling "thousands" of dollars from the Merced Police Officers Union, according to an investigator's affidavit for a search warrant.
Deliman could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
Primarily responsible for the union's financial accounts from about 2007 to 2016, the 56-year-old Deliman had a union credit card in his name that existed without the knowledge of the union's governing board, union officials told the Attorney General's Office.
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Deliman left the Merced Police Department in August to work as an investigator for the Merced County District Attorney's Office. He worked for the Merced department for more than 20 years.
Sometime that same month, Chief Norm Andrade reported the suspected embezzlement to the state Attorney General's Office after the new union president, Officer Emily Foster, reported discrepancies in the union's financial records, the affidavit said.
Neither Andrade nor Foster returned calls for comment. The union directed all questions to state investigators, according to Jason Jasmine, an attorney for the union.
Deliman met with Foster and another union representative to talk about the transition of leadership about a week before he left the union, according to the affidavit. The records were incomplete for financial paperwork and tax-related items in 2016, but Deliman promised to turn over records he had at home, according to the affidavit.
As the new leaders began to review records, they found "questionable transactions," including cash withdrawals "not consistent with MPOA practices," the affidavit said.
"According to Officer Foster, the bank records showed several trips to Las Vegas, Costco receipts for the items purchased on the MPOA's credit card for what appeared to be personal items, as well as, cash back," the affidavit says.
Union Vice President Doug Avery attempted repeatedly in August to collect the missing records from Deliman, according to the affidavit, but the former president "never made any attempt to turn the records over."
Investigators with the Attorney General's Office questioned Deliman on Nov. 7. He was pulled over on his way to work while driving a Merced County car and placed in handcuffs, but was not arrested or booked into jail. He has not formally been charged with any wrongdoing.
Investigators seized two cellphones and searched his home where several more items, mostly finance-related records and documents, were seized as possible evidence, the affidavit says.
Deliman was placed on paid leave from the District Attorney's Office that same day, which was three months after he was hired, District Attorney Larry Morse II confirmed Thursday. Morse said that also was the same day he first learned of the allegations against the veteran investigator.
Morse noted that questions raised by union officials all involve Deliman's time as union president before he joined the prosecutor's office. Morse also said Deliman passed a standard background check before he was hired by the county.
Multiple law enforcement officials declined to comment publically on the investigation, saying the allegations centered only around the union and did not involve the department or city directly. Several officers privately acknowledged being "surprised" and "stunned" by the allegations. More than one officer described Deliman as "one of the most well-liked guys in the whole department."
While a Merced officer, Deliman was an outspoken supporter of the memorial that stands outside of the Merced Police Department on West 22nd Street and played a major role in the annual golf tournament that's named after Stephan Gray, an officer who was killed in the line of duty in 2004.
In his 20 year on the police force, Deliman has played a prominent role in many violent crime investigations. He was also the lead investigator many high-profile cases, like the killings of Bill and Lena Chapman, who were slain in their own home on East South Bear Creek by burglars who then torched the house where the couple had lived for nearly 40 years.