SOUTH BEND – It may be much more than just not making a police report and then lying about it that has a decorated South Bend police officer on the hot seat.
Patrolman Chris Bortone is on paid administrative leave for failing to file a report after a shoplifting incident he investigated and then lying about it.
The department is recommending Bortone be fired.
There was a lengthy hearing Tuesday before South Bend's Board of Public Safety regarding Bortone.
During the hearing, there was testimony Bortone has a "past history" during his 10 years on the force.
Just five years ago, a smiling Bortone excepted his Officer of the Year award for arresting a suspect wanted for a string of arsons on the city's southeast side.
Fast forward to Tuesday's hearing when a serious, straight-faced Bortone dodged allegations he lied about why he did not make a police report after he investigated a theft at the Meijer store on Portage Road on March 31.
Interim Police Chief Chuck Hurley and former Unit Division Chief Jeffrey Walters both testified they are recommending Bortone be fired for more than just this latest incident.
"Why are you recommending termination?" asked Assistant City Attorney Andrea Beachkofsky. "I was basing that upon his first of all the recommendations coming from his supervisory people and his past history," answered Chief Hurley.
"First, you judge the merit of the facts in front of you pertaining to that particular case and in addition to that, you also take into account the officer's past history," testified retired South Bend Unit Division Chief Jeffrey Walters. Walters was Bortone's supervisor and assisted with the internal affairs investigation.
WSBT did some digging into what that past history is.
Chief Hurley confirmed Bortone has been on paid suspension since June.
A few months early, in April, Bartone got 15 days suspension for driving his patrol car to Mishawaka, out of his assigned area for personal reasons.
Before that, in February, Bortone was suspended for 30 days without pay for driving his police car to his ex-wife's workplace and taking a temporary license plate off her car. He also reportedly encouraged her to not file charges against him.
During a break in Tuesday's hearing, Hurley confirmed to WSBT Bortone had multiple suspensions, more than just two.
WSBT has filed a request with the city's legal department to get more information about Bortone's complete history of disciplinary action.
Discussion about Bortone's past history was not allowed into testimony during Tuesday's hearing.
However, the board has to approve any suspensions more than 5 days.
Meaning this year, the board did approve Bortone's two major suspensions.
It is unclear whether board members will take those suspensions into consideration when deciding this latest case against Bortone.
The board is expected to release its decision whether Bortone should be fired or not during its meeting in January.