Colorado Springs Police Lt. Dave Henrichsen confessed to Denver-area authorities on Jan. 16, 2015, that he took part in a counterfeit NFL gear scheme involving hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Six days later, Henrichsen was placed on paid administrative leave at the CSPD. But he wasn't fired. In fact, he continued to receive his $100,000 annual salary — and even got a pay raise during that time — until he chose to retire five months later.
With those extra five months of "service," Henrichsen had enough time with CSPD to qualify for a generous pension.
Last month, Henrichsen was charged with money laundering, conspiracy, violation of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act and computer crime — all felonies — and a misdemeanor count of trademark counterfeiting. Three other men from the Denver area also face charges in the case.
Henrichsen is free on $20,000 bond pending an Oct. 12 hearing at which a preliminary hearing will be scheduled. Meantime, he's collecting his taxpayer-funded pension, which appears to be in line with policies of the department and other Colorado law enforcement agencies.
The Police Department has refused to discuss the Henrichsen case, except to provide dates of employment and his last promotion. He was hired April 18, 1989, and was elevated to lieutenant on June 15, 2014.
A few months later, in September 2014, federal immigration, customs and border authorities, who had been monitoring Henrichsen along with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), seized a single shipment to him of 57 counterfeit NFL jerseys worth about $3,000, according to the arrest affidavit. Subsequent investigation by ICE, DHS and the 17th Judicial District Attorney's Office documented more than 61 shipments to Henrichsen since 2011 from known counterfeiters in China and Hong Kong, the affidavit said.
The goods were sold as authentic at the Mile High Flea Market in Commerce City.
Henrichsen met with authorities at a Starbucks on Jan. 16, 2015, and admitted he had wired money overseas and used multiple mailboxes for fictitious companies at UPS stores to receive the goods. He also received more than 70 shipments at his Wheat Ridge home, from which he commuted to Colorado Springs to work as a police officer, the affidavit said.
According to the affidavit, Henrichsen also recruited his wife, two stepdaughters and a stepson to handle wire transfers after he had been "flagged" by Western Union and could no longer handle the transfers himself. His wife, Carol Thomas, told investigators she believed wiring money "was legal based upon her conversations with Henrichsen."
Henrichsen, on the other hand, "stated that he knew it was wrong but did it anyway because everyone else was doing it," the affidavit says.
Investigators concluded that between 2006 and 2014, there were more than 400 transactions that totaled $868,000. Records also showed up to 109 people had transmitted money to China, and the scheme used at least 24 fictitious companies.
On Jan. 10, 2015, agents seized more than 2,500 pieces of counterfeit NFL merchandise valued at $68,000 from the flea market booth run by Marc Misko, Henrichsen's friend, who now also faces charges.
The CSPD didn't respond by press time to the Independent's request for an internal affairs investigation report of Henrichsen, so it's not publicly known whether the CSPD sought to investigate and punish Henrichsen. But CSPD policies require an officer to be charged or indicted on a felony before being placed on leave without pay.
Other police departments, including in Pueblo and Denver, don't allow disciplinary action to be taken against an officer accused of a crime based solely on an arrest or a crime report. Rather, an administrative investigation is required. The Denver police won't even begin an internal affairs investigation until the criminal case has been completed.
But the CSPD apparently was aware of the Henrichsen matter, because on Jan. 22, 2015, six days after his chat with investigators, he was placed on paid leave where he remained until he retired July 1.
He was paid $48.81 per hour until March 29, 2015, when a market-driven pay increase for sworn personnel kicked in, raising his pay to $49.78 per hour. When he retired, Henrichsen had collected more than $40,000 during his leave, city records show, in addition to undisclosed paid personal leave and vacation time.
To retire under provisions of the Fire & Police Pension Association of Colorado, Henrichsen needed to be 50 years old and serve 25 years. He turned 50 on March 22, 2015. To reach the 25-year requirement, he needed about five more months when he was placed on paid leave in January, due to a gap in service in 2002. He met both criteria when he retired, and will collect an annual pension of $63,424 for life.
Statutes bar taking away a pension, though the law permits garnishment of a pension if a pensioner is convicted of theft or embezzlement, an FPPA spokesman says.
In a June 17, 2015 memo to Police Chief Pete Carey, Henrichsen asks permission to keep his badge and service weapon upon retirement, noting he'd served "with pride and honor." The CSPD didn't respond by press time to the Indy's Sept. 7 question of whether his request was granted.
A records request for other communications between Carey and Henrichsen drew a blank, but it's worth noting that Henrichsen served as president of the Colorado Springs Police Protective Association in 2013 and 2014 — a time when Carey needed, and got, support from the CSPPA on his controversial Physical Abilities Test. The PAT test lies at the center of a federal lawsuit against the city filed by a dozen female officers who allege it was designed to make females fail. It's expected to go to trial later this year.
Henrichsen, if convicted, faces sentences up to 24 years in prison and fines up to $1 million, though a spokesman familiar with criminal courts says there's no mandatory prison term required in his case, so he could get probation.