Cop Headed to Jail

Walter McWilson charged with grand theft, receiving stolen property

Thursday, Feb 11, 2010  |  Updated 12:41 PM PDT
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Cop Headed to Jail

Bill Wechter/North County Times

The sergeant reading a letter of praise to him and an ER nurse that was written by the daughter of a person they helped.

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A once-lauded Oceanside police sergeant will do jail time after pleading guilty Wednesday to three counts of receiving stolen property, according to a published report.

Before striking a plea bargain with prosecutors, Walter McWilson, 37, a 10-year Oceanside police veteran, was facing 14 felony charges, including grand theft and conspiracy, for allegedly asking his office-manager girlfriend to use her construction company's credit cards to buy gift cards, electronics and home improvement materials, reported the North County Times.

Prosecutor Anna Winn, who handled the case, said police officers are "heroes" and "protectors," so McWilson's fall was painful to many."

McWilson is scheduled to be sentenced June 15 to 365 days in county jail, Winn said, but if he repays Oceanside-based Royal Pacific Construction $22,000 by that date, he will get a sentence of between 180 and 270 days.

McWilson is a certified crisis negotiator who also worked with the Oceanside Police Department's anti-graffiti team

"It's extremely disappointing, as we as police officers are granted public trust to constantly demonstrate the highest degree of integrity,"Oceanside Police Capt. Tom Aguigui said in November.

Investigators believe McWilson asked Aimee Rich, 34, to use the card to buy him several items, including floor tile and four flat-screen TV' for a music studio he was setting up. Investigators said he then asked her to buy him gift cards at Home Depot so there wouldn't be a trace left.

"It was obvious to a lot of people that they were going through a lot of cash," Murrieta resident Karen Tillotson said in November.  She lived next door to McWilson and a woman she believed to be his wife.  "She had a brand new Escalade and he was driving a Mercedes."

Tillotson said McWilson would often start home construction projects that he wouldn't finish, including a recording studio in his garage. In 2008, Tillotson said the home foreclosed. 

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