A former Pennsylvania police officer is now on the wrong side of the law, charged with stealing from others in law enforcement.
T.J. Burke, a former Mercer County police officer, is facing felony theft charges after multiple victims reported they did not receive their portion of the money raised through charity events he organized.
Burke is the founder of Officers Down 5K, an organization that helps raise money nationwide for police departments, police associations, and fallen officer families.
Lamar County Adopt-A-Cop was one of the organizations Burke scammed.
“When we first heard about Officers Down 5K he had held events in Houston and McKinney and helped raise money for many organizations, not only in Texas but nationwide,” said Lamar County Adopt-A-Cop president Amanda Willows. “Being from a law enforcement background, we all thought we could trust him.”
The Lamar County Officers Down 5K event, held October 21st, 2017, was a great success for those who participated and local sponsors.
“We raised roughly $600 for the Lamar County Adopt-A-Cop and everyone had a great time,” Willows said.
However, as the months went on, correspondence with Burke about payment went quiet and Willows started questioning where the money had gone.
“He said that they had lost money on a couple of events and that there was going to be a delay in our money,” said Willows.
By February 2018, all correspondence had gone silent with Burke and that’s when Willows discovered the truth behind where the money had gone.
Burke was arraigned February 14th and charged with felony theft.
“I was heartbroken, absolutely heartbroken and not just because of the money we raised but I couldn’t imagine why someone would do that,” said Willows.
Multiple victims have since come forward nationwide from law enforcement agencies to widows of fallen officers.
“My heart goes out to all those scammed. I know the money we raised was important for our local community but it saddens me to think of the thousands and thousands of dollars scammed from deceased officers families,” said Willows.
Willows has since filed a report with the Reno Police Department and plans to move forward, continuing to raise money for local law enforcement.
“May 12th is our annual Adopt-A-Cop Walk In Their Shoe’s and 5K event and we’re looking forward to raising that money again and buying more equipment for local law enforcement officers”
Since the criminal charges have been filed, Burke has shut down his business.
The 2017 Officer Down 5K Event (Photo provided by Lamar County Adopt-A-Cop)