By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff Writer
A judge reduced criminal charges against a former Clovis police detective from felonies to misdemeanors Wednesday during a probable cause hearing in Curry County Magistrate Court.
Keith Farkas, 38, of Clovis was arrested Nov. 9 by state police and charged with felony counts of embezzlement and tampering with evidence.
He is accused of using a department computer for personal use.
Farkas’ attorney, Randall Harris, said the judge reduced the charges after evidence proved the value of a computer Farkas admits taking home was less than the $900 the state claimed.
The reduced charges Farkas faces are embezzlement under $500 and tampering with evidence, both misdemeanors.
A trial date will be set later.
Harris termed the ruling as “huge” for his client’s case.
“There’s not even probable cause to believe he committed a felony offense. They’re stuck with a misdemeanor and a petty misdemeanor, which is the difference between night and day,” Harris said.
In December, the city terminated Farkas’ employment on grounds of pending criminal charges, according to Harris.
Officials with the city’s human resources department said Wednesday they cannot discuss the reason Farkas is no longer with the department, citing personnel privacy issues.
Describing his client’s 17-year career with the department as stellar, Harris said he is in the process of appealing his client’s dismissal. Harris said he is not sure if Farkas will seek his job back with the CPD.
Due to conflicts of interest, the case is being prosecuted by the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s office in Carlsbad. Calls to the 5th Judicial District office seeking comment were not returned.
After initially denying he knew the whereabouts of the computer, Farkas admitted he took the computer home to print wedding invitations and returned it, court documents show.