A retired Mesa police lieutenant who was sentenced Thursday to probation and community service for a theft conviction said he was treated unfairly by the justice system.
Randall Lineberger, 42, said his ex-wife should have been prosecuted too and a Chandler detective who investigated the case of alleged insurance fraud went about it wrong by trying to prove his guilt rather than objectively gathering the facts.
Lineberger, who retired Aug. 31 after 19 years with the Mesa Police Department, pleaded guilty Sept. 7 to one count of theft, admitting that he did not return proceeds for items listed on an insurance claim that he knew had not been taken during a burglary of his Chandler home in 1990.
Lineberger said they were items Joanne Lineberger-Bohm had put on the claim and when he discovered after the burglary they weren’t stolen, the couple had a huge fight.
"It’s gut-wrenching when you have to sit there and hear just complete lies like that," Lineberger-Bohm said.
She told Chandler detectives Lineberger staged the burglary and submitted the false $13,000 claim so he could pay off judgments against him in a previous divorce, police reports state.
Lineberger admitted to keeping $250 to $500 that wasn’t his.
As for his admitted wrongdoing, Lineberger said he was trying to cover for the misdeeds of his then-wife, who was pregnant when the alleged fraud took place in 1990.
"I didn’t have my police hat on at that moment," he said. "I did it for my family."
Lineberger said in a letter to Judge Michael Wilkinson that his ex-wife has been trying to retaliate for his refusal to give in to her demands in their divorce. He said he suspects detectives believed his ex-wife from the beginning and they didn’t follow up on information he provided them on her misconduct.
Chandler police spokesman George Arias said the department stands by its investigation, saying it was good enough for prosecutors to proceed in bringing criminal charges.