Former Elba officers, including chief, indicted on forgery charges

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Elba (WTVY)-- Two former Elba police officers, including the city's longtime chief, face charges that they falsified state paperwork. The Coffee County Jail confirmed their indictments.

Alabama Police Officers Training and Certification Commission Executive Secretary R. Alan Benefield reads investigative findings to three former Elba police officers who admitted involvement in a fraudulent paperwork scheme. Photo from July 19, 2018.

Freddy Hanchey and Robert LaVoie, admitted involvement in a scheme to file fraudulent firearms certification forms.

The Alabama Peace Officers Stardards and Training Commission (APOST) learned of the violations from a sergeant on the Elba police force.

Following a July hearing , the commission stripped Hanchey and Lavoie of their law enforcement credentials. A third officer, Carl Andrew Gunter, also lost his credentials but there is no record that he has been charged.

“They had not qualified in several years and false information was being provided to APOST and false documents were being created,” APOST Investigator John Purdue testified during the hearing in Montgomery.

Alabama law requires officers to qualify annually with their firearms at a shooting range. For three years, Elba officers didn’t, and when APOST learned of the violations and planned an audit of the department, a scheme was hatched to bring paperwork up to date, testimony revealed.

Hanchey admitted he signed the documents but claims he wasn’t aware of what he was signing because he regularly signed paperwork without closely scrutinizing it.

However, when APOST Executive Secretary R. Alan Benefield, now retired, pressed Hanchey, he admitted lying to investigators.

Gunter also testified paperwork he created falsely listed a law enforcement officer for another agency as the firearms qualifier. Gunter apologized to the officer who, according to testimony, had no involvement in the scheme.

After APOST began its investigation, Hanchey and Gunter retired from the Elba Police Department while Lavoie was removed from duty.
Both are charged with forgery and are free on bond.