While most cops protect and serve, former East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Baxton apparently likes to play.
Baxton pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing four Xbox 360 consoles from the FBI, reports St. Louis news station KSDK.
To be clear, the 360 is not standard issue equipment for the Feds these days. Officials had them in the car as part of a sting operation after suspicions arose about the chief’s conduct.
Baxton, who faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000, came under suspicion of offering preferential treatment to some suspects and stealing/selling items from the evidence locker. That’s when the FBI decided to test him.
Agents bought five Xbox 360s, put them in the trunk of a car, then reported the car as being stolen. Baxton and another officer responded to the call — and sure enough, when they saw the Xboxes, the chief ordered the officer to put four in his car and keep one for himself.
“Unbeknownst to Baxton, the unnamed officer voluntarily came forward to report other acts of misconduct occurring in Alorton and had been assisting the federal investigation from its inception. The unnamed officer was equipped with covert surveillance devices at the time of the theft — and he audio and video recorded the entire incident,” reads the court record.
Officials tracked one of the Xboxes and found it being used in Baxton’s basement. But the U.S. Attorney overseeing the case said Baxton lied and tried to frame another officer when confronted.
Baxton’s attorney calls the incident a “monumental lapse of judgment.”
Ironically, this isn’t the former chief’s first brush with the other side of the law. It turns out Baxton had two felony convictions from 1982 before he was appointed: one for theft and another for burglary. Those convictions were expunged in 1989.
The town really can’t catch a break when it comes to law enforcement officials. Baxton, after all, got the job of chief when the former chief was convicted of federal tax crimes.