MARANA, Ariz. – In a case of booty on duty, an internal affairs investigation at the Marana Police Department resulted in the firing of one officer and the resignations of three others, according to documents released Friday.
Police officials released details of the investigation into alleged improper use of a computer database and allegedly having sex while on duty, reported 12News.
Officer Dionysius Cazares, 31, was fired October 27 for computer tampering. Moreover, she now faces criminal charges. However, she pleaded not guilty to charges accusing her of accessing a computer or computer system to obtain confidential information while off duty.
Furthermore, Officers Kyla Sylvia, Daniel Nicholas, and Keith Storms all resigned from their positions with the department.
On Sept. 17, after the end of her midnight patrol shift, the investigation apparently revealed Cazares ran vehicle registration checks on two license plates for personal reasons, not for law enforcement-related reasons. This is according to the Notice of Disciplinary Action. One of the vehicles was registered to Sylvia.
During the investigation, Cazares told investigators that she had been “involved in a personal relationship with Officer Nicholas and suspected he may also be involved in a personal relationship with Officer Sylvia,” according to police documents.
Nicholas was also on patrol on Sept. 17, and Cazares noticed he spent an extended period of time in a neighborhood outside his assigned district, police documents said.
As a result, Cazares told investigators after her shift she went to the neighborhood and ran the license plates to try to determine who he had been spending time with, according to police documents.
A grand jury indicted her on two counts of computer tampering, a class 6 felony, on Oct. 10, police documents said.
According to Marana police documents, Cazares was trained on proper computer use in November 2015.
During the investigation, the Marana Police Department also learned that while on duty, Nicholas had visited Cazares at home for an extended period of time, documents show.
Cazares admitted to investigators that Nicholas would leave and take calls before returning to her house over the course of three to five hours that day, police documents said. Cazares did not report the incident to the department.
Also on or around Oct. 10, the Marana police learned of a report from an anonymous citizen of seeing two officers, a man and a woman, “involved in a ‘romantic moment’ at the El Rio preserve area on July 28.
Police documents said based on shift assignments that day; the department determined the two officers were Keith Storms and Kyla Sylvia.
As a result, Storms admitted during questioning that he and Sylvia had spent “an extended period of time” – approximately three and a half hours, the investigation found – at the preserve while they were supposed to be on patrol, according to police documents. Storms told investigators he and Sylvia only left the area after another officer told them to get back to patrol.
While Storms said he had heard there were rumors of sexual activity between him and Sylvia, he “repeatedly stated that absolutely no conduct of a sexual nature ever occurred” while on duty, police documents stated.
Later, however, Storms admitted to an encounter with Sylvia that happened after a debriefing in July 2017, the document states. According to police documents, Storms told investigators that Sylvia showed him nude photos of herself and he made a lewd comment before placing her hand on his crotch.
In addition to breaking the law, investigators determined that Cazares violated seven Marana police and Town of Marana policies, including failure to report Nicholas’ conduct the night he was at her house.
“The conduct in this case occurred during an emotionally fraught time, stemming largely from Officer Cazares’ separation from her husband,” Cazares’ attorney, Louis Fidel, wrote in a letter to the Pima County Attorney’s Office, reported tucson.com.
Cazares became friends with Nicholas shortly after she was hired in 2015, later becoming romantically involved with him. Cazares broke things off shortly before the Sept. 17 incident, after learning that Nicholas was engaged to another woman, the letter says.
“They continued as friends, but Officer Cazares was then told that Officer Nicholas was also romantically involved with another female MPD officer, which was deeply hurtful,” Fidel wrote in the letter. “She felt that her trust had been betrayed and also that Officer Nicholas had taken advantage of their friendship and her circumstances following her separation… to make romantic advances.”
When Cazares told the officer who reported her to internal affairs what she’d done, she wasn’t aware that she had violated department rules, the letter says.
“Officer Cazares was an inexperienced officer who did not understand the extent of the (Arizona Criminal Justice Information System) rules and made an emotional mistake that she immediately reported to another officer,” the letter says. “She is not a bad cop who deserves to be saddled with felony criminal charges.”
Consequently, Chief Terry Rozema said the accusations were grounds for punishment and dismissal.
“We don’t bring our relationships to work,” he said. “We’re expected to work and do our job — to keep this community safe.”
Nicholas resigned effective October 19, Sylvia effective October 20, and Storms effective November 9.
Cazares has a case management hearing scheduled for Dec. 13 with Pima County Superior Court Judge Richard Fields.
In a Notice of Intended Disciplinary Action on November 7, the Marana Police Department informed Storms they had planned to fire him after completing their investigation.
“This is disappointing. I’ve kind of gone the gamut as far as emotions on this whole thing, from disappointment and anger and frustration, to now where I’m at a point that it’s just sad to me,” Rozema told news agencies Friday. “It’s sad to me that four young people that had promising careers and had gone through so much to obtain their certification and be a part of this organization now no longer have that right and ability.”
In addition to their jobs, the four former officers have also lost their reputations and relationships as a result of the situation, he said.
“I recognize that what has to happen in these situations is that they have to be dealt with fairly but swiftly, and the right thing has to be done in order for us to maintain our integrity and relationship of trust with the community that we do have,” Rozema said. “I’m confident that we’ve done that. There’s no doubt in my mind.”
“The public has to know that they can trust that we’re not going to just drive around using police resources for our own benefit,” Rozema concluded.