George Chavez, 51, faces three felony counts of false personation exposing the victim to liability, and three felony counts of filing a false police report. The 23-year police veteran surrendered to authorities Tuesday night, and was freed after posting $60,000 bail.
Authorities say that on Oct. 28, Chavez used his police computer to look up a Texas man he sued in 2008 after a local car accident, as well as the attorney from the Sacramento-area he hired to file the corresponding civil suit.
He then purportedly used that data to write up one traffic ticket and two tickets for illegally parking in a handicapped zone, forging the signatures of the Texas man, the attorney and two other police officers on the citations.
"It's surprising and unfortunate because we put a lot of responsibility on police officers and give them a lot of power," deputy district attorney Daniel Rothbach said. "Besides using his police computer, he went even further, exposing the victims to liabilities and abusing the trust of other police officers."
The purported scheme unraveled when the officer whose signature appeared on the traffic ticket was notified after an administrative review of the citation, and alerted a supervisor. The motorist listed on the ticket was in Texas when the documented violation supposedly occurred. Further investigation turned up the phony parking tickets.
San Jose police officials expressed concern about the allegations against one of its officers.
"In these cases, we respect the criminal process and monitor the criminal proceedings, which will be followed by an administrative review," Sgt. Heather Randol, a police spokeswoman, said. "We hold our officers accountable."
Randol deferred additional questions to the District Attorney's Office.
The charges carry a penalty of up to six years and four months in prison. Chavez was placed on administrative leave from the police department. His next court date is Dec. 10.