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‘Detective of the Year’ Accused of Sending Sexually Graphic Messages to Online Decoy He Thought Was a 14-Year-Old Girl

Greg Beaumarchais

Now on paid administrative leave, Greg Beaumarchais was the Santa Ana Police Department’s Detective of the Year in 2019. Screenshot from Santa Ana Police Department video)

A California law enforcement official once honored as his department’s “Detective of the Year” now stands accused of sending sexually graphic messages to a person he thought was a 14-year-old girl.

Gregory Daniel Beaumarchais, 43, was released from jail Tuesday after turning himself on a warrant that charges him with one misdemeanor count of annoying or molesting a victim believed to be under the age of 18. He’s on paid leave from the Santa Ana Police Department, where he’s worked since 2011. A video posted on the department’s social media pages honor him as the 2019 “Detective of the Year.”

Beaumarchais’ charge stems from a civilian who contacted the Orange County’s Crime Stoppers hotline and said they’d been posing online as a 14-year-old girl when someone claiming to be a 45-year-old police officer sent them graphic messages between December 2021 and January 2022.

Beaumarchais has hired well-known Orange County criminal defense attorney Paul S. Meyer, who told Law&Crime on Tuesday, “It’s premature to comment.”

Federal authorities can take jurisdiction over internet-based crimes and often do in child sex abuse cases, but the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced only the misdemeanor charge against Beaumarchais on Tuesday and said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security assisted in the investigation.

Shawn Gibson, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security’s Los Angeles office, confirmed in the press release that the charge is related to Beaumarchais allegedly “showing sexual interest in children.”

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said it’s “beyond disturbing that a sworn police officer would engage in inappropriate conversations with someone he believed to be a child.”

“Our children should not have to worry about being preyed upon by the very people we teach them who are there to protect them,” Spitzer said in the press release. “The vast majority of police officers are the trusted authority figures we expect them to be and when an officer engages in criminal behavior it tarnishes the badge of all of our hardworking law enforcement officers.”

The Santa Ana Police Department said in its own press release that it received the tip on Friday, Dec. 17, and on Monday, Dec. 20, contacted federal authorities to request an investigation after its internal affairs unit “determined the matter to be criminal in nature.”

“The Police Department took immediate and swift action in referring these allegations to the appropriate local and federal authorities,” according to the department press release.

Beaumarchais will be on leave until the conclusion of the criminal and administrative investigations, police said. If convicted of the misdemeanor, Beaumarchais faces up to a year in jail and could be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

(Image: Screenshot from Santa Ana Police Department video)

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A graduate of the University of Oregon, Meghann worked at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, and the Idaho Statesman in Boise, Idaho, before moving to California in 2013 to work at the Orange County Register. She spent four years as a litigation reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and one year as a California-based editor and reporter for and associated publications such as The National Law Journal and New York Law Journal before joining Law & Crime News. Meghann has written for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Bloomberg Law, ABA Journal, The Forward, Los Angeles Business Journal and the Laguna Beach Independent. Her Twitter coverage of federal court hearings in a lawsuit over homelessness in Los Angeles placed 1st in the Los Angeles Press Club's Southern California Journalism Awards for Best Use of Social Media by an Independent Journalist in 2021. An article she freelanced for Los Angeles Times Community News about a debate among federal judges regarding the safety of jury trials during COVID also placed 1st in the Orange County Press Club Awards for Best Pandemic News Story in 2021.