Former Hastings police officer arrested for theft by deception

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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) -- A former Hastings police officer was behind bars Friday morning after using a GoFundMe page to raise money for medical bills he didn't have.

An arrest affidavit states officer Jerry Esch of the Hastings Police Department was arrested for Theft of Deception Thursday night.

Back in November, Esch created a GoFundMe page to raise $27,000 for excessive medical bills. The site has raised $21,284 but only $650 were used for medical expenses.

But, after an interview with the Nebraska State Patrol, Esch admits what was written in his GoFundMe page was wrong and saying he needed money for medical bills would collect money faster.

According to the affidavit, Esch wrote on his GoFundMe page, "I need your help to pay off some medical bills, medication and the credit cards that I put medication on."

It also says Esch used the money to pay off credit card bills, personal loans and a divorce attorney.

Esch was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and said he's been in remission since June 2015.

Hastings Police Chief Pete Kortum said his department was made aware of the Go Fund Me page. He said statements made on the page were inconsistent with the City of Hastings insurance plan which is why they wrote to the Attorney General's office to have the Nebraska State Patrol investigate.

Chief Kortum said "Since Mr. Esch's employment status with Hastings Police Department is a personnel matter, we will only confirm that he was no longer employed by the City of Hastings as of February 2016.

Esch is being held at the Adams County jail on a $5,000 bond. He's due in court next Thursday.