A former Pima County Sheriff's Department burglary detective has been arrested on several theft charges following an internal investigation.
Deputy Courtney Rodriguez, spokesperson with the Pima County Sheriff's Department says that on Jan. 11, deputies arrested former Sheriff’s Detective David Tarnow on a Grand Jury Arrest Warrant.
The arrest follows an extensive investigation by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.
David Tarnow is accused of crimes related to the theft and sale of property from the department’s evidence inventory and local pawn shops, and theft by extortion.
He has been charged with three counts of Trafficking in Stolen Property, two counts of Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices, one count of Theft, and one count of Theft by Extortion.
Tarnow served as a deputy with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department for 15 years, Rodriguez said.
Prior to joining the Sheriff’s Department, Tarnow served a distinguished career in the US Air Force and retired in 1998 as a Master Sergeant with an honorable discharge.
"He came to us from the Air Force as a hero, as a decorated veteran. And there was nothing there to suggest anything other than he's a good, hard-working man. But something came along in this young man's life that made him decide to go to the dark side," said Sheriff Nanos.
Sheriff Nanos said the department became aware of a problem with Tarnow when a burglary victim complained Tarnow had not returned all of his stolen property that was recovered.
As Internal Affairs investigated, Nanos said they were getting inconsistent stories from Tarnow. They investigated further and found that Tarnow had been taking items from the evidence room.
"He would take items, put them in our evidence room and then later on, maybe months later, go and check them out for some sort of analysis or whatever the ruse was, but it really was for no other reason than to steal the property," said Sheriff Nanos.
Tarnow resigned from the department on July 27, 2015 after learning that an Internal Affairs investigation had been initiated from that citizen complaint, Rodriguez said.
Nanos said Tarnow had several victims. "But we think there are a lot more cases out there," said Nanos. The Sheriff said he hopes others will now come forward.
Sheriff Nanos has already made at least one change in the department: detectives can no longer check anything out of the evidence room without a court order.
Investigative review expanded into a criminal investigation. The case is now in the hands of the County Attorney's Office.
The initial internal investigation began with a complaint to the Sheriff's department by the victim in a 2011 burglary. According to reports obtained by Nine On Your Side, the victim recovered some items from the burglary, but not everything. His report was filed against Tarnow who took over for a different detective who retired.
Reports indicate the victim was particularly interested in retrieving a gold coin, known as a Liberty Coin, valued at about $1,200 dollars. Detectives located a coin matching the description at a pawn shop, but the victim could not prove it was his. The detective working with the victim before Tarnow placed it on police hold.
Later, records show the coin was released to the victim, but the victim says he never received it. Pawn slips indicate Tarnow pawned a similar coin for more than $1,000 dollars.
There other instances where Tarnow pawned items with similar descriptions to those stolen from this particular victim.
A silver belt buckle was reported stolen, and reports indicate it was returned to the victim. Again, the victim claimed he did not receive it. Pawn slips indicate Tarnow pawned a belt buckle with a similar description.
Reports also indicate suspicious activity from Tarnow on LeadsOnline - a resource for law enforcement to track pawn activity. Tarnow apparently altered pawn records for items he pawned himself. For instance, after pawning a bracelet, the edit history show Tarnow changed his last name from "Tarnow" to "Sarnow", then adjusted the description of the item making it more vague, then changed his name back to "Tarnow".
During the internal investigation, Tarnow denied editing the records or even knowing how to do so.