HARTFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — The chief of the Hartford Police Department, who has been on leave since admitting she was stealing from a drug disposal box, has retired.
“As of today I have officially retired,” former chief Tressa Beltran wrote in a Monday Facebook post.
She explained that although she had served the city for more than 33 years, it was in her “best interest to move on” due to age and “current circumstances.”
Beltran wrote she would keep supporting the citizens and work to better herself “and the medical/dependency issues.”
City Manager Yemi Akinwale said Beltran had been on leave since June 30, 2022, the same day the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office and Michigan State Police searched the Hartford Police Department as they looked into “illegal narcotics activity.”
Search warrants from last summer say that Beltran admitted she was stealing prescription drugs, specifically hydrocodone, from a disposal box at the police department.
The documents say the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office had gotten an anonymous tip that Beltran may have been illegally using or selling prescription narcotics.
On June 24, 2022, members of the narcotics unit left a total of 37 hydrocodone pills in two marked bottles in the disposal box — called a Red Med box — and told Beltran they were there.
Investigators aid Beltran was the only person at the Hartford Police Department with a key to the Red Med box and that it was her job to move the drugs from the box to the evidence room when it was full. The sheriff’s department would then pick up and destroy the drugs.
On June 29, the documents say, the sheriff’s office investigators told Beltran they wanted to pick up the Red Med box drugs for disposal. At first, the documents say, Beltran wouldn’t give them the drugs, telling the investigators they were in the evidence room and she couldn’t get to them. Pressed by a detective lieutenant at the sheriff’s office, she agreed to turn them over. She eventually gave them the drugs, at the same time saying that she sometimes put them in her office, not in the evidence locker, after clearing out the box. She also said that she felt like she was being set up.
The sheriff’s office investigators soon found someone had torn open the plastic shopping bag that had contained the two marked bottles of hydrocodone. One of the bottles was missing three pills. The other bottle, found in a different bag, was empty — the 20 pills that had been inside it were gone.
When they raided the police department on June 30, investigators said, they found several prescription pill bottles and loose hydrocodone pills in Beltran’s purse. They also found evidence bags that had been ripped open, the evidence missing.
The same day, the court documents say, Beltran admitted to stealing drugs from the Red Med box and using them herself.
The case was handed over the Michigan Attorney General’s Office. On Tuesday, that office had no comment on its status.
The city didn’t mention the drug case in confirming Beltran’s replacement to News 8. Akinwale said Lt. Mike Prince was stepping in as interim chief.
“Thank you all for always being a supporter and I wish you all the best,” Beltran wrote.