Orange police officer arrested for narcotics theft

Orange police officer arrested for narcotics theft

Former Orange Police Department officer Taylor Saleme was arrested Tuesday afternoon, June 25, after being implicated in the theft of prescription drugs.

According to a news release from OPD, the department received a complaint in reference to the theft of prescription medication, specifically naming then-officer Saleme, on June 12. During an internal investigation that same day, Saleme resigned from OPD. 

Saleme was arrested June 25 after a warrant signed by Judge David Peck was issued charging the former officer with possession of a controlled substance (hydrocodone), a Class A misdemeanor. Saleme was arrested later the same day and booked into the Orange County Jail. Orange County District Attorney Investigator K.C. Breshears assisted in the investigation, according to the release.

Although the news release gave basic information, an examination of the affidavit of probable cause for Saleme’s arrest revealed that the internal investigation was initiated after a call from the father of a fellow OPD officer. The man told police that on multiple occasions, he found he was missing medication and said on the previous Saturday, June 8, he discovered 39 missing pills. He originally suspected someone else of the theft and decided in order to catch the thief, he would set a trap. He secretly placed two video cameras at key areas in his home and then set up the bait, a clean pill bottle with 30 doses of hydrocodone, a generic version of the drug commonly known as Vicodin.

On June 12 at approximately 11:30 a.m., the man reported Officer Saleme drove up to his residence while on duty. Saleme asked the man to use his restroom, to which the man agreed. Saleme entered the man’s home alone and was the only person in the house at the time. After Saleme left, the man checked the bottle and discovered 21 of the 30 pills were missing. He carefully placed the bottle into a plastic bag to turn over to police, according to the affidavit.

Capt. Cliff Hargrave, who completed the statement for the affidavit of probable cause, reported that he received a call from OPD Police Chief Lane Martin regarding a “serious internal investigation.” He arrived at the victim’s home and observed the evidence at the scene. Hargrave reported that upon observing the recording, “The video clearly showed Officer Saleme enter the living room, kneel down at the end of the couch where the medication was located, reach down and do something with his hands, then stand up and exit the living room.”

Saleme was then called into an interview to discuss the accusation. According to the affidavit, "During the interview, Saleme admitted to stealing a 'handful' of pills from (the victim)." Saleme also indicated he already ingested eight pills, but produced the remaining 13 for his fellow officers who were interviewing him.

Saleme told officers he suffered a shoulder injury and had received at least eight prescriptions from two separate doctors for pain medication, which led to a chemical dependency on the medication. After the interview, Saleme waived his rights and signed a written statement.

One officer said Saleme was "well-liked" around OPD and said the whole situation was "sad."