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Detroit Cop Charged With Operating Chop Shop

DETROIT (WWJ) - Two men who worked within the Detroit Police Department have found themselves on the other side of the law.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig on Wednesday announced charges in two cases: One against a 5-year veteran of the force, and another against civilian who has worked in the department for a decade.

Northeastern District officer Devon Payton has been charged with conspiracy to operate a chop shop and receiving and concealing a stolen vehicle.

Police launched an internal investigation in April after the department received a tip that vehicles were being stripped at a northwest Detroit business.

Officials said Payton was found working in the shop, at 14100 Meyers, during a business inspection. That's when he allegedly identified himself as a police officer and said that his family owned the shop.

Kerns, James
James Kerns (credit: Detroit Police Department)

Payton was suspended without pay.

He surrendered Tuesday to the department's Professional Standards Bureau, was arraigned, and released on a $5,000 bond.

In a separate case, James Kerns, who worked for 10 years in the medical division, is accused of illegally charging at least one police officer cash for access to medical records that should have been free.

According to police, Kerns wasn't authorized to solicit or accept payments on behalf of the department or the city from anyone. On top of that, police said, an investigation revealed that Kerns had kept the money for himself.

Kerns was suspended without pay and arrested on a charge of felony embezzlement. He was arraigned Wednesday and released on a $10,000 bond.

"Let there be no mistake, this department does not and will not tolerate such egregious acts by or against our members.  We will vigorously investigate any and all allegations of this nature," Chief Craig told reporters.

"I would like to emphasize that the actions of these employees are not conducive to those of the men and women who come to work every day and server the citizens of this city with the utmost level of integrity and dedication," Craig said.

Payton will be back in court on Dec. 20 for a preliminary examination. An exam date for Kerns has not been announced.

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