Veteran OPD officer takes plea in theft case

OCEANSIDE — An Oceanside police sergeant accused of receiving stolen property from an embezzlement scheme perpetrated by his former girlfriend pleaded guilty Feb. 10 to charges related to the thefts. Walter Willis McWilson, 37, admitted to three counts of receiving stolen property in connection with items embezzled from Oceanside-based Royal Pacific Construction through his former girlfriend, 33-year-old Aimee Rich. Prosecutors allege McWilson, a 10-year veteran with the Oceanside Police Department, worked in concert with Rich to secure purchases for his home music studio. As part of his plea, McWilson admitted to receiving mahogany flooring, a microphone boom stand and a 50-inch Magnavox plasma television. McWilson, of Wildomar, had faced 14 counts relating to the embezzlement scheme and up to five years in prison. In lieu of his plea, McWilson agreed to serve 365 days in prison; however, if he repays $22,800 to Royal Pacific Construction by the June 15 sentencing date his jail time will range from 180 to 270 days. Deputy District Attorney Anna Winn said McWilson asked Rich to buy items on her company credit cards as well as purchase Home Depot gift cards to further conceal the crime. Rich pleaded guilty to a single count of embezzlement with the allegation that she stole more than $65,000, Winn said. When she is sentenced April 22, she faces between 120 and 365 days in jail. During their investigation, Oceanside police detectives began to question McWilson about his involvement with Rich after a receipt with his name on it for a mattress was found in her home, according to court documents. Winn said McWilson’s actions were that much more reprehensible because of his affiliation with law enforcement. She said McWilson betrayed the public and other police officers through his criminal acts. “Police officers are our heroes and they’re the people that we go to when no one else will protect us, and if someone is actually a criminal disguised as a police officer, then it’s extremely egregious and a violation of the public’s trust,” Winn said. McWilson was placed on administrative leave from the Oceanside Police Department in August. Because he is now a convicted felon, McWilson is barred from carrying a firearm, which means he cannot work in law enforcement, Winn said. This was not McWilson’s first time in trouble with law enforcement. In 1993, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge after being arrested for evading police, court records state. The charge was later expunged from his criminal record.

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