MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Former Fort Lauderdale Police officer David Michael McElligott changed his plea in federal court and admitted he falsified military leave and earnings statements with the city so he could falsely assert his rights under federal law to return to his job as a cop.
He pled guilty Friday to one count of wire fraud and now faces up to 20 years in prison for his crime.
McElligott had been away from his job since 2001, serving in the US Air Force as a full-time reservist. An article in the South Florida Times, which had reported on the federal investigation, claims Officer McElligott had purchased a home near the base in Georgia where he was stationed, and moved his family there, raising questions about any plans to return to his job in Ft. Lauderdale.
Under a program for employees who served military duty after 9/11, the city of Ft. Lauderdale supplemented the pay of reservists on active duty, matching their full salary, but only for up to a total of 5 years. The program covered employees like McEllogott, who volunteered to serve.
However, under federal law, any time a member of the military is ordered to remain on duty involuntarily, the time of that service is not counted.
Federal investigators claimed that between September 2003 and October 2011, Officer David McElligott falsified military documents and orders to show that he was under orders to continue mandatory service, when in fact his service was voluntary.
The feds also claimed he falsified pay information submitted to the city, to make it look like his military pay was less than it actually was. Because of that, Officer McElligott apparently was able to get supplemental pay for years beyond his legal entitlement.
Officer McElligott had been a member of the Ft. Lauderdale Police Department since 1991.