PHOENIX, AZ (January 28, 2011) – James Michael Wren (DOB 3/23/87) will serve one-and-a-half years in the Arizona Department of Corrections for attempting to steal thousands of dollars in cash from an undercover police officer posing as a drug dealer. Wren committed the crime during a traffic stop while serving as a uniformed Phoenix Police Officer. He agreed to plead guilty to solicitation to commit theft in exchange for the dismissal of seven felony counts which included attempted money laundering, attempted armed robbery and using electronic communication to conduct a drug transaction.
“This is a just punishment for someone who willfully violated the trust we place in our public servants, and should send a clear message that we will aggressively prosecute anyone who breaks the law,” commented Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, whose office prosecuted the case. “This case is an unfortunate exception to the overwhelming majority of our uniformed law enforcement officers who protect our community with integrity and distinction,” he added.
According to court documents, Wren admitted to two similar, successful cash thefts from reputed drug dealers that took place in the Fall of 2008. He allegedly targeted his victims with the help of tips from a confidential informant he befriended prior to becoming a police officer. After learning of Wren’s illegal activities from the informant, Avondale police notified Phoenix police, who set up a sting operation with an undercover officer in June, 2010. Wren pulled over the undercover officer who was carrying a large sum of cash, but later released him after becoming suspicious. Wren was arrested upon returning to his precinct station and admitted to planning to steal the money.
No other police officers were involved in the crime.