/ Modified oct 13, 2016 5:38 p.m.

Ex-Chief Deputy Faces Charges in $500,000 Theft, Conspiracy

Federal indictment accuses him of stealing anti-crime money over four years.

Metro Week's Andrea Kelly spoke with Arizona Daily Star reporter Caitlin Schmidt about the charges brought against former Pima County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Chris Radtke. Listen here:

radtke portrait Chris Radtke.
Pima County Sheriff's Department

The former second in command of the Pima County Sheriff's Department is accused in a federal indictment of stealing nearly $500,000 from a department account intended for use in fighting crime.

Christopher M. Radtke faces one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and six counts of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, according to the indictment paperwork released Wednesday.

He is scheduled to make his first appearance in court on the charges Friday.

The conspiracy charge has a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, and the theft charge has a maximum of 10 years and $250,000 on each count, said a public information officer for the U.S. attorney in Salt Lake City. That office is handling the case because of an unspecified conflict of interest with the U.S. attorney's office in Arizona.

Radtke was chief deputy to Sheriff Chris Nanos until Monday, when Radtke resigned.

The charges come under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law, known as RICO. The law governs seizure and dispersal of money found in criminal activities, allowing its use by law enforcement agencies. Illegal drug operations are a key source of money seizures under RICO.

The paperwork details 10 reimbursements as "examples of the approximate $500,000 of financial transactions" that were conducted illegally. Included were transactions dating from May 2011 to April 2015 involving reimbursements for restaurant bills and in one instance two model airplanes and rush shipping charges for them, totaling more than $700.

Included in the example transactions were several involving equipment for a café at sheriff's headquarters. The Arizona Daily Star has reported that the café was operated by Radtke's niece without a county contract.

The indictment said the transactions were made to appear that the RICO money was being donated to the Sheriff's Auxiliary Volunteers as a way of laundering it and getting around the rules over how it is used.

Radtke and "other persons known and unknown" conspired to commit the crimes between January 2011 and July 2016, the indictment said.

Nanos appointed Radtke as his second in command last year after Nanos was named sheriff to fill a vacancy created when longtime Sheriff Clarence Dupnik retired in July 2015.

Nanos is seeking election to a full term as a Democrat in the November election and is being challenged by Republican Mark Napier, who is a former Tucson and Glendale police officer.

The sheriff has declined comment on the specifics of the case against Radtke. He held a news conference Wednesday at which he declined to answer questions but read from a statement saying he will meet with all his department commanders to ensure finances are being handled properly.

He also criticized Richard Carmona, a sheriff's deputy and former U.S. surgeon general, for telling "blatant lies" about him and the department.

Carmona held his own news conference last week to criticize Nanos and Radtke for intimidation of deputies and other staff in relation to the FBI investigation that led to the charges against Radtke.

Nanos called some news media coverage unfair and asked reporters not to cover news conferences by Carmona and the association that represents sheriff's deputies.

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