Flashback: That Time An SF Cop Embezzled $16,000 From Pride Alliance
As SF Pride returns for 2021, almost every city that has a Pride celebration is once again wrestling with the question of whether cops should be at Pride. Here in San Francisco, that argument has a rather amusing historical footnote — there was one time when an officer in the SFPD Pride Alliance embezzled nearly $16,000 from the organization, setting off a three-year scandal that led to multiple cops leaving the force and created yet another black eye for then-chief Greg Suhr.
The year was 2015. Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” was the No. 1 song in the country, Fifty Shades of Grey was the reigning box office smash, everyone was playing somethig called Candy Crush, and Jon Snow still hadn’t been killed or resurrected yet. The San Francisco Police Department had an LBGT group within the department called the San Francisco Police Officer’s Pride Alliance. That group still exists today, but with a slightly different name, because of this embarrassing embezzlement scandal.
Word first bubbled up in a February 2015 Bay Area Reporter exposé that an officer had allegedly embezzled nearly $16,000 SF Police Officer’s Pride Alliance. That officer, Mike Evans, was the former treasurer of the Pride Alliance, and had already stepped down from his position and left the force when the Pride Alliance discovered the missing money. The Bay Area Reporter obtained emails that “said the organization had ‘conducted a financial audit’ of its finances that revealed Evans had embezzled the money.”
SF Police Officer’s Pride Alliance tried mightily to cover the whole thing up. The department knew he admitted it, but allowed Evans to resign with “satisfactory” service , which meant he could be hired as a cop elsewhere.
Emails revealed that Evans “admitted to have stolen thousands of dollars from us and wanted to apologize,” and he did pay back the stolen money after he was busted. But Pride Alliance president Lt. Chuck Limbert pressured the group’s members hard to “not to refer this matter to the SFPD,” and members said “Chuck then personally threatened any member of the PA with personal lawsuits if we made the result of our audit public to our members.”
When that became public, Chuck Limbert turned in his badge and retired a week later, according to KTVU.
— Heather Holmes (@HeatherKTVU) October 2, 2015
And the wheels of justice kept turning. Evans had fled to Texas, but was arrested and indicted in October 2015 on charges of embezzlement and grand theft. By that time, three quarters of the SF Police Officer’s Pride Alliance had already quit the organization because the incident completely gutted their morale. “A lot of people have lost faith in our organization,” new president Marquita Booth told KGO.
The corruption would not end there! The following year, the whistleblower on the whole scandal, Officer Pat Burley, told KTVU that she was forced to retire when it was discovered that she was the one who leaked the emails to the press. Officer Burley had been on the force for 22 years, but she was referred for disciplinary action for reporting that one of her cop colleagues had embezzled the $16,000. “She was told the matter would be referred to The San Francisco Police Commission for disciplinary action, including possible termination,” KTVU reported. “But that San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr would agree to dismiss the discipline, if Burley agreed to retire early.”
She sued the SFPD, and won. The SF Examiner reported in January 2018 that Burley won a $100,000 settlement for her forced resignation, paid for of course with your tax dollars.
The SF Police Officer’s Pride Alliance now exists with the slightly different name SFPD Pride Alliance. They were banned from the SF Pride parade over an excessive force incident at the 2019 parade. But any discussion of “cops at Pride” ought to remember this 2015 incident where cops at Pride embezzled $16,000 from themselves.