A California officer, named “detective of the year” in 2019 is accused of sending “graphic messages” to a person he thought was a 14-year-old girl, according to authorities.
Gregory Daniel Beaumarchais, 43, is charged with one misdemeanor count of annoying or molesting a victim believed to be under the age of 18, according to a statement from Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. He turned himself in on Tuesday.
Beaumarchais, who has been with the Santa Ana Police Department since 2011, has been placed on administrative leave, according to prosecutors. A 2021 tweet from the Santa Ana Police Department announced Beaumarchais as its 2019 “detective of the year.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security began investigating Beaumarchais after a civilian, who said they were posing as a 14-year-old on social media, was contacted by “someone claiming to be a 45-year-old police officer,” according to Spitzer’s statement. “Beaumarchais is accused of sending graphic messages with the civilian decoy between December 2021 and January 2022.”
Authorities said he sent some of the inappropriate messages while on duty.
Beaumarchais is also accused of creating a second, similar social media profile after his was inactivated by the provider.
“Police officers are entrusted with the sacred responsibility to safeguard society from harm,” Spitzer said. “It is beyond disturbing that a sworn police officer would engage in inappropriate conversations with someone he believed to be a child.
If convicted, Beaumarchais faces up to a year in jail and will have to register as a sex offender. His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Elisha Fieldstadt is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.