Former Concord officer in court over alleged drug theft

A former Concord police officer is accused of stealing prescription drugs from seniors and allegedly used his K9 as a ruse to gain their trust.
April 8, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
The legal problems facing a veteran Concord police officer could have a ripple effect on other criminal cases. Matthew Switzer, a former K9 officer, is accused of stealing prescription drugs from senior citizens.

ABC7 News spoke with the Public Defender's office in Martinez and they said they plan to ask a judge to throw out at least one guilty verdict because of Switzer's involvement. They are in the process of reviewing more than two dozen other cases form last year alone.

Meantime, earlier on Tuesday, Switzer's lawyer told ABC7 News what might have motivated his client.

"There's no question in anybody's mind that this is a case about someone who fell into the thralls of prescription pill addiction," said Switzer's attorney Harry Stern.

The attorney for a former Concord police officer accused of stealing drugs from senior says his client was overpowered by an illness -- addiction.

"It started with an on-duty injury. He was prescribed these powerful heroin-like drugs and he succumbed to their clutches, for now," said Stern.

Switzer used his police dog "Figo" as a ruse to gain the trust of seniors in a Concord apartment complex and gain access to their powerful pain medication, Norco.

"For instance, obtaining the pills from these people by telling them that he needed to train his dog to smell those types of drugs," said Barry Grove, a prosecutor.

Dr. Barbara Porter is a psychologist who works with seniors in Contra Costa County, including some at the Concord apartment complex where Switzer allegedly committed most of his crimes.

"It's given to the seniors when they are really suffering. It's a double tragedy. Not only are they feeling ripped off by a very trusting entity or person, but they're also then missing the kind of medication that's needed for them to continue functioning in a relatively pain-free manner," said Porter.

The case against Switzer could also jeopardize other criminal prosecutions of defendants Switzer came in contact with as a police officer.

"It's all on a case-by-case basis and certainly there's a potential that it can hurt cases that he was on, but it depends on a number of factors," said Grove.

Besides his dog, the prosecutor told ABC7 News, there's some information Switzer may have taken his own children to visit elderly residents of the Concord apartments, the same people he allegedly stole from.


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