A Hartford police officer accused of stealing merchandise while working a private duty security job at Walmart in July appeared in court Monday and is due back next month.
Officer Luis Feliciano, 34, turned himself in to police last week and was served with two warrants charging him with fifth-degree larceny and possessing a shoplifting device, according to police.
Feliciano, who has been a member of the Hartford Police Department for two and a half years, was suspended and asked to stay away from headquarters.
He's accused of stealing from the Walmart on Flatbush Avenue while working a security job there, according to police, who said surveillance cameras recorded some of alleged thefts.
During his brief appearance at Hartford Superior Court, Feliciano's case was continued to Sept. 18. Feliciano and his attorney left the courthouse without commenting Monday.
According to arrest warrants affidavit dated Aug. 4 and Aug. 7, Feliciano would allegedly take coffee makers and other items that were packaged for sale to a "stash spot" in the hardware section, an area he believed lacked surveillance cameras.
He then emptied the boxes, filled them with more expensive merchandise, resealed them, and paid the lower price at checkout, according to the affidavits.
The stolen goods included PlayStation controllers, a $400 wireless speaker, video games, cellphone chargers, household cleaning products, steaks and much more, according to the affidavits.
Sales associates also saw him with a shoplifting device used to deactivate anti-theft systems on electronics and other high-end items, the affidavits allege.
Walmart security considered the operation to be the work of a “professional shoplifter,” according to the affidavits.
Prior to his work at the police department, Feliciano spent 10 years as a loss prevention officer for a large retailer in Massachusetts, according to the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission.
This incident comes about a year and a half after Feliciano’s department-issued gun was reported stolen in Springfield, Massachusetts, according to Hartford police. Springfield police said Feliciano's weapon was later recovered during a drug raid.
Feliciano was rejected from the Springfield Police Department prior to being hired in Hartford. He filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission, saying the department was prejudiced because of a 2006 murder charge against him that was later thrown out, according to the commission's 2012 ruling.
An officer involved in the murder case also said a bag of suspected cocaine was found in Feliciano's Springfield apartment, although no drug charges were ever filed, according to the document.
The commission denied Feliciano's claim, alleging that he hadn't been truthful about all the details of the incident and had lied about his home address, the ruling contends.
Sources within the Hartford Police Department told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters they question the decision to hire Feliciano in the first place, and City Council members said they're now reviewing the department's hiring procedures and screening practices.
"I'm very happy with HPD in this instance," said councilmember Ken Kennedy. "They've done what is appropriate. Their actions seem to be appropriate, although a court of law will determine that."
After Feliciano’s arrest, state police union president Sgt. Richard Holton released a statement saying, "I ask the public not to judge officers based on one person's actions. There are still men and women out there doing good work day in and day out."
Feliciano is suspended without pay as the criminal investigation into his conduct continues. Hartford police have not responded to questions about why he was hired here in Connecticut.
Walmart has declined to comment on the case.