Wilmington cop accused of embezzling police funds

Wilmington Police M/Cpl. Michael Ballard is accused of allegedly embezzling $22,000 in funds generated by recycling brass shell casings at the department’s firing range.  (File/WHYY; Ballard photo courtesy Wilmington Police)

Wilmington Police M/Cpl. Michael Ballard is accused of allegedly embezzling $22,000 in funds generated by recycling brass shell casings at the department’s firing range. (File/WHYY; Ballard photo courtesy Wilmington Police)

Michael Ballard was arrested Tuesday following a three-month internal investigation. Police say the 14-year member of the Wilmington Police Department is charged with felony and misdemeanor theft and has been suspended without pay.

Ballard is accused of embezzling $22,000 in funds generated by recycling brass shell casings at the department’s firing range. Ballard had been assigned to work at the range, police said. An internal investigation started in September after officers reported possible misconduct. That investigation determined that Ballard allegedly took funds from the account starting in October 2015.

“Regardless of the personal struggles that police officers face on a daily basis, we must never break the trust of the public we serve,” said Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy in a statement.

On Nov. 15, Ballard barricaded himself inside his home in the Bellemoor community near Newport after New Castle County police got a call to check on his welfare. Officers arrived at the home around 10:30 p.m., but they say Ballard refused to answer the door. Ballard eventually surrendered without incident around 9 a.m. the next morning.

County police say they found evidence Ballard had fired a gun in the direction of a neighboring homes. He was charged with felony reckless endangering and felony possession of a firearm by a person prohibited.

After that incident, Ballard’s status with Wilmington Police Department was changed from administrative leave to suspended without pay.

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