Former Utah police chief charged with stealing thousands in public funds

Travis Romney, 36, worked as Stockton’s chief of police from 2016 to 2022.

(Stockton Police Department) Former Stockton police Chief Travis Romney is accused of stealing thousands in public funds through an overbilling scheme, according to charging documents.

State prosecutors filed charges Tuesday against a former Utah police chief, accusing him of stealing thousands of dollars from the town of Stockton and the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Highway Safety Office through an overbilling scheme.

Charging documents state that former Stockton police Chief Travis Romney, 36, collected his salary as chief of police from April 2016 through his resignation in October 2022. During that time, Romney also worked contracted overtime DUI shifts for the Highway Safety Office.

According to his contract, the Highway Safety Office would reimburse the town of Stockton for the DUI shifts that Romney worked, charging documents state. Those reimbursements were based on monthly reports that Romney was required to fill out, which stated the amount of overtime hours he worked and a tally of his DUI arrests.

But for those six years as chief, Romney “constantly invoiced” the office for hourly wages that were higher than the projected time-and-a-half rate, an agent with the Utah State Bureau of Investigation wrote.

Based on a formula using that projected rate, the agent found Romney overbilled the office for DUI shifts by more than $22,000, court documents state. The agent also found the number of DUI arrests reported by Romney each month were inconsistent with court and jail records, writing that Romney significantly overstated his number of arrests.

Officials said in a news release said the investigation was initiated after a Stockton town official in February reported irregularities in Romney’s financial records.

Romney was charged Tuesday with two counts of theft, a second-degree felony, after prosecutors say he took money from both Stockton and the Highway Safety Office for “his personal use.”

He is also charged with one count of communications fraud, another second-degree felony, in connection with the monthly reports prosecutors say he filled out about his overtime shifts and DUI arrests.

(Grantsville Police Department) Travis Romney resigned as chief of police for Stockton in October 2022. The same month, he was sworn in as a detective for the Grantsville Police Department.

Romney resigned as chief of Stockton police in October 2022. The same month, on Oct. 18, he was sworn in as a detective with the Grantsville Police Department, according to the Tooele Transcript Bulletin. His current employment status was unclear as of Wednesday afternoon.

The state requested a warrant for Romney’s arrest, but court records do not indicate that he was taken into custody as of Tuesday evening.

Romney’s attorney instead requested a summons, arguing in a court filing Tuesday that the state had not provided any indication that Romney would fail to appear in court if summoned. The filing notes Romney is a longtime resident of Tooele County and has no criminal history.

Outside of law enforcement, Romney has written a comic book since 2014 called “The Mighty Utahn,” The Salt Lake Tribune has reported. He was selling copies at last year’s FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention, which took place in September, before he resigned as chief of Stockton police.

At the time, he described the hero in his comics as “Utah’s Superman,” who gets his powers from radioactive green Jell-O.

“In my day job, I deal with a lot of really horrific things,” he told the Tribune in September. “For me, this is a nice escape from all the stuff we’ve got to deal with.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, no court hearings were scheduled in the theft case.

Justin Scaccy

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