A former Granite City police officer pleaded guilty to a felony for lying to police about the woman who took his squad car and police equipment.
Thomas Paul, 51, pleaded guilty Monday in Madison County to a single count of felony disorderly conduct.
Paul was accused of trying to prevent the arrest of Lamonica Henderson, 24. Paul told Granite City police that he suffered minor injuries after his 2014 Ford Fusion unmarked squad car was stolen. Paul told his fellow officers that someone entered his car, struck him and drove off as he investigated what he thought to be a motorist in distress. Paul was off-duty.
He said he was headed west on North Street approaching the intersection of Illinois 3 and stopped behind a dark-colored minivan that wasn’t moving. Paul told police that he left his car to check on the driver, who he said was slumped over the wheel. As the officer tried to wake the driver, he heard his car backing up and saw it drive away.
The car was later found in St. Louis County on the parking lot of Hillcrest Apartments near Jennings, Mo. There were six guns in the car. Five of them were recovered.
It was later disclosed that there was a woman in the car during the incident — Lamonica Henderson. Henderson was on felony probation. She had pleaded guilty to failing to return a car rented from Enterprise Leasing in Swansea.
The public has the right to expect our police officers to conduct themselves both on and off duty with the integrity and honesty. Unfortunately, Mr. Paul fell short of that mark here, but his cooperation with law enforcement after the incident and sincere remorse about the incident make this a fair disposition.
Assistant State’s Attorney Dan Lewis
As part of his cooperation agreement, Paul must divulge all he knows regarding the theft of his squad car and police equipment by Henderson, the agreement stated. Henderson has not been charged.
“Mr. Paul is now a convicted felon and will never be able to work as a police officer again or even possess a weapon for that matter,” said St. Clair County Assistant State’s Attorney Dan Lewis, who was appointed as a special prosecutor in the case. “The public has the right to expect our police officers to conduct themselves both on and off duty with the integrity and honesty. Unfortunately, Mr. Paul fell short of that mark here, but his cooperation with law enforcement after the incident and sincere remorse about the incident make this a fair disposition.”
Paul could not be reached for comment. His attorney Rob Elovitz declined to comment.
Paul was sentenced to two years of probation, and court costs, probation fees and DNA were assessed. Paul will have to complete 30 hours of community service and comply with all conditions of the cooperation agreement. Paul faced obstruction of justice and official misconduct charges as well, but those were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
Paul retired after the incident. He had been with the Granite City Police Department since 1988 and rose to the rank of lieutenant. It’s unclear whether the conviction will effect Paul’s pension, but in most cases where the officer is convicted of off-duty conduct, it does not.