Former Oakland, Nebraska, police chief charged with misdemeanor theft

By: - March 24, 2023 6:09 pm

(Getty Images)

LINCOLN — The former police chief of Oakland, Nebraska, has been charged in federal court with misappropriating public funds after a state audit found he’d spent nearly $15,000 in city funds on personal items.

Terry Poland was charged March 15 in U.S. District Court with using less than $1,000 in town funds to purchase a basketball backboard for his home. The charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison.

In June, the Nebraska State Auditor’s Office found that Poland had used city funds to buy a long list of personal items, from a $950 glass basketball backboard to ice-fishing equipment, a $400 wake surfboard and a Yeti cooler. The purchases went back to 2020.

The chief, according to the audit, had maintained he was using gift cards he had purchased with city funds to buy ammunition for the police department.

The same audit found that Poland and two other local police officers had double-billed hours for patrolling the streets to both Oakland and nearby Lyons.

The Oakland Independent reported in October that Poland had paid restitution for what was purchased.

Poland, who had served as police chief in the northeast Nebraska community since 2016, resigned in July and turned in his state certificate to serve as a law enforcement officer.

He is scheduled to appear in court April 14.

Oakland, a farm town of 1,378 people, is about 60 miles northwest of Omaha.

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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation, a member of the Nebraska Hop Growers and a volunteer caretaker of Irvingdale Park in Lincoln.