- Prosecutors accused a California cop of sending inappropriate messages to a decoy teen girl.
- Prosecutors alleged some messages were sent while the previous "Detective of the Year" was on duty.
- If convicted, he'll face up to a year in jail and will be a registered sex offender.
A Santa Ana, California, police officer previously named "Detective of the Year" was accused of sending inappropriate and graphic messages to who he thought was a 14-year-old girl online, the Orange County District Attorney's Office said in a press release.
Gregory Beaumarchais, 43, turned himself in Tuesday and was charged with one misdemeanor count of annoying or molesting a victim believed to be under the age of 18, the Orange County District Attorney's Office said. If convicted, he will face up to a year in Orange County Jail and will have to register as a sex offender.
A May 2021 tweet from the Santa Ana Police Department account applauded Beaumarchais for being named the department's 2019 Detective of the Year.
—SantaAnaPD (@SantaAnaPD) May 7, 2021
Prosecutors allege that Beaumarchais sent someone posing as a 14-year-old girl online "graphic" messages from December 2021 to January 2022. Prosecutors said that when Beaumarchais' social media account was shut down by the website, he created a new one to keep communicating with who he thought was a child.
Prosecutors also accused Beaumarchais of "engaging in some of the inappropriate communication while on duty."
"It is beyond disturbing that a sworn police officer would engage in inappropriate conversations with someone he believed to be a child," Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in the statement. "Our children should not have to worry about being preyed upon by the very people we teach them who are there to protect them."
The Santa Ana Police Department was made aware of the allegations on December 17, 2021, and Beaumarchais was "immediately" placed on administrative leave, according to a press release from the department that was shared with Insider.
The department said Beaumarchais will remain on leave until the end of the investigation.
Beaumarchais' defense attorney didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.