Oxford cop apologizes, says '$500 fee' comment was 'sarcastic' - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

Oxford cop apologizes, says '$500 fee' comment was 'sarcastic'

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Officer Todd Barraco says his comment about a "$500 fee" was "sarcastic" and he apologizes. Officer Todd Barraco says his comment about a "$500 fee" was "sarcastic" and he apologizes.
OXFORD, Mich. (WJBK) -

Oxford Police Officer Todd Barraco is stepping forward with his side of the story after a man accused him of being a cop for hire.

"I'm required to keep my composure, and I didn't do that," said Barraco.

Nathaniel Bennett told us he tried to get the Oxford police officer to help him deal with a domestic issue to avoid a potentially violent situation and was told if he wanted to be helped out, he would have to pay up.

"I charge a $500 fee.  I want $500 cash if I'm going to be your personal service to go over and exchange messages.  Can you drop off $500 cash to my police department please?" Barraco can be heard saying in a recorded phone conversation.

"That sounds like bribery and extortion," Bennett responded.

"Pure frustration moment.  I was dealing with some other cases that were pretty high emotion," Barraco explained.  "I know Mr. Bennett was dealing with a relationship that [had] gone bad, and I made a sarcastic comment to him.  For that I apologize to him."

Barraco claims he didn't mean it, and he wanted to make that clear to Bennett, who agreed to meet with him at the police department.

"Mr. Barraco apologized.  He stated he was under a lot of stress, but he still should not have said what he said," Bennett said afterwards.  "I believe he does need to be held accountable for his actions, but at the same time, he still does need to have some livelihood."

Oxford Police Chief Michael Neymanowski has suspended Barraco without pay until he completes his investigation.

"There [are] rules and general orders that he did violate within my agency.  So at this particular time, I'm taking all the information.  There is going to be certainly some disciplinary actions taking place because what he did was certainly wrong," the chief said.

However, this isn't the first time Barraco has been in trouble with Oxford Police.  He was disciplined for verbal misconduct a couple of years ago and we've learned before that for some misconduct when he was a juvenile probation officer in Lapeer County.  The chief judge said Barraco agreed to resign after he was caught bugging his boss' office.

"No I was not.  That's incorrect," said Barraco.  "He's wrong, and I left to go into another career."

Barraco later admitted to us off camera he recorded his job evaluation, and he decided it was in his best interest to leave.

Barraco is currently a part-time officer with Oxford Police, but his full-time job is principal at Venture High School, an alternative high school in Imlay City where he helps troubled kids turn their lives around.

"I'm an adult, and I tell them that if you make a mistake, come in, we'll talk about it, and that includes me.  I will always do that.  If I make a mistake, own up to it and move on," Barraco said.

Neymanowski said he did consult the prosecutor's office on this, but was told it didn't qualify as bribery or extortion and should be handled internally.

The chief said he should have his investigation wrapped up by next week.

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