Cold Case Posse lead investigator Mike Zullo admits he received checks totaling roughly $1,400 for the sale of the e-book version of his investigation into President Barack Obama's birth certificate. But a review of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office official Code of Conduct shows it is an abuse of power for employees or volunteers to use their official position for personal or financial gain.
CBS 5 Investigates obtained a copy of the Code of Conduct after receiving an anonymous tip that Zullo may have violated MCSO policy in selling his book.
MCSO spokeswoman Lisa Allen responded to a request for comment with the following statement:
"As Mr. Zullo publicly stated before you and other reporters, he has received approximately $1,400 in royalties. He kept none of that money as a personal financial gain, choosing instead to donate all of it."
CBS 5 Investigates reached out to other Valley law enforcement agencies, including Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler and the Department of Public Safety. All reported that it would be against department policy for an employee or volunteer to sell police information.
"If employees are allowed to just generate their own interest, write their own books, sell their own products, it just destroys the public trust," said William de la Torre, a retired Phoenix police sergeant with 24 years on the force.
Active and retired police officers have written books about cases, but those cases are generally closed or cold, unlike the sheriff's investigation into the president's birth certificate, which the sheriff said is ongoing.
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