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Hayward Police officer Romeo Aberin, 30, resigned Oct. 7, 2013 after he was arrested on suspicion of committing extortion under the color of authority.

HAYWARD -- A Hayward police officer resigned Monday after being arrested in connection with an extortion scheme in which prosecutors say he used his badge to take advantage of an alleged criminal.

Romeo Aberin, a six-year veteran of the department, was arrested on suspicion of committing extortion under the color of authority after the incident last month, which involved a woman suspected of forging a prescription, said Sgt. Mark Ormsby.

The 30-year-old officer had been on paid leave since Sept. 15 -- the same day San Leandro police contacted the Hayward Police Department about the allegation against Aberin.

A Hayward police inquiry revealed that Aberin was investigating a possible prescription forgery incident, interviewed a suspect and determined that she had been involved in the forgery, Ormsby said.

Instead of documenting his actions and arresting the suspect, Aberin attempted to use her as a confidential informant, Ormsby said. Aberin exchanged phone numbers with her and required her to "provide useful information related to unassociated felonious criminal activity."

After the contact, Aberin never notified the department of his actions or intent, which Ormsby said was a requirement. The Hayward Police Department has a confidential informant policy that all officers are required to follow with strict protocol.


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About two weeks later, on Sept. 13, Aberin contacted the suspect and arranged a meeting with her at her workplace, Ormsby said. Aberin then met with the suspect while off duty and discussed his previously stated requirements.

When she advised Aberin there was no useful information to give him, he proceeded to ask for cash in exchange for neglecting to report any criminal activity against her.

"Out of fear and duress, the victim complied and provided Aberin with a known and undisclosed amount of cash," Ormsby said.

The following day, Sept. 14, the suspect reported the incident to the San Leandro Police Department, which conducted a preliminary investigation and forwarded its findings to Hayward police.

Hayward police later corroborated the woman's statement, and a judge issued a warrant for Aberin's arrest.

Aberin turned himself in at the Hayward police station Monday. He was booked into the Hayward jail and released on $50,000 bail, Ormsby said.

Hayward police Chief Diane Urban said she was "shocked and disappointed" when she heard of the alleged misconduct.

"The Hayward Police Department is highly committed to excellence and accountability, and our investigation and response to this incident reflects our enduring commitment to ensure criminal behavior is not tolerated," Urban said.

"Anytime you hire from the human race, there are going to be human mistakes," Urban said. "People make mistakes. How we react to it is what defines us. I just don't want one person's misconduct to reflect the 300-plus people who work for this organization."

The arrest came just 10 days after another Hayward police officer, 38-year-old Richard Scott McLeod, was arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing several girls at a Livermore after-school program over a nine-year period. Both McLeod and Aberin were hired by Hayward police in 2007, the year before the department began utilizing an outside agency for its employees background checks.

McLeod was arrested Sept. 28 at the Livermore Police Department after an investigation into allegations he sexually abused girls in their early teens while working as a teacher for Kid Zone. The after-school program for middle school children is run by the Livermore Area Recreation and Park District.

Allegations recently surfaced that McLeod, who worked as the lead coordinator for the program from 1992 to 2007, had engaged in oral sex, sexual intercourse and inappropriate touching of several girls enrolled in the program. The abuse began in 1998 and went on until he resigned from the program to join the Hayward Police Department nine years later, police said.

While McLeod is still a member of the Hayward Police Department and has been on paid leave since his arrest, he will be placed on unpaid leave starting this week, Urban said. He is being held in Santa Rita Jail without bail.

Anyone who believes they may be a victim of a similar situation is asked to contact Hayward police at 510-293-7034. The investigation is ongoing.

Contact Natalie Neysa Alund at 510-293-2469. Follow her at Twitter.com/nataliealund.