A former Dothan police officer received probation after recently pleading guilty to a felony trafficking in stolen identities charge.
Court records show Charles Thomas Simmer, 29, of Coffee Springs, pleaded guilty late last week to felony trafficking in stolen identities and misdemeanor falsely reporting an incident.
Records show Simmer received a 10-year sentence for the trafficking in stolen identities charge, and a 12-month sentence for the misdemeanor. Both sentences were ordered to be served concurrently with each other for one 10-year sentence. But the 10-year prison sentence was suspended in favor of five years of probation.
The court also ordered Simmer to maintain employment and to pay fines, court costs and restitution, and to complete a theft prevention course as part of his probation.
Dothan police investigators arrested Simmer in March of 2015. He originally faced a total of 20 felony charges, which included 15 counts of felony identity theft, four counts of fraudulent use of a credit card and felony trafficking in stolen identities. Court records show 19 of the 20 felony charges were dismissed as part of the guilty plea agreement.
Simmer was a Dothan police officer at the time of his initial arrest on March 3, when he was charged with four counts of fraudulent use of a credit card and four counts of identity theft. He subsequently resigned. Simmer had been on the force less than a year when he resigned and Chief Steve Parrish said Simmer had been a solo officer for about a month at the time of his arrest. Police later filed additional charges against him bringing the total to 20.
According to police, investigators began looking into Simmer in January when he filed a police report, listing himself as a victim of identity theft. Later, Dothan police received a call from USAA Bank, alerting the department of a potential fraud case. Investigators believed Simmer obtained the information of several people, opened credit card accounts in their names, and made multiple purchases with the accounts. In other instances, police believe Simmer received cash advances from credit cards, then reported the accounts compromised.
“He claimed to be a victim himself, and the bank did their own investigation and informed us he was possibly the suspect,” said police Investigator Erick Broten of how police first started their investigation. “He claimed someone opened up an account in his name, but it turned out it was an account he actually opened up.”