Former homicide detective avoids jail after admitting two felonies

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A former homicide detective for the Fresno County sheriff avoided jail time Monday even after admitting to two felonies.

Dewayne Chatman's crimes came to light during the investigation at the public administrator's office where county employees got caught stealing from the deceased. He still insists he didn't do anything wrong, but his involvement will end his law enforcement career.

Investigators digging into a scandal where government employees stole from people after death found evidence pointing them to one of their own -- a district attorney investigator and former homicide detective at the Fresno County sheriff's office.

DeWayne Chatman spent about 20 years in law enforcement working crime scenes all over the county. Now he's admitted to committing crimes.

Prosecutors charged him with lying to the state by transferring cars into his name and claiming they were gifts from the public administrator's office.

His defense attorney says Chatman admitted to one count of felony perjury even though he wasn't stealing the cars.

"The families didn't want the cars," said his attorney, Tony Capozzi. "They were old. They were abandoned. The families were out of town and he just worked it out with the families that he would just take the cars off their hands."

Prosecutors also charged him with 24 felonies related to tax evasion related to his side business, California Trauma Tech.

His company cleaned up after crime scenes and often followed public administrator's office employees into homes.

He admitted to one count of failure to pay taxes for employees.

"The state determined that these were employees and not independent contractors," defense attorney Capozzi said. "He accepts that fact and will make up the difference in what was due for payroll taxes."

The probation department suggested Chatman spend six months in jail and five years on probation for his crimes, but attorneys settled on a plea deal where he won't serve any time in jail.

The judge gave him three years of probation.

"Better to have him working and pay off the restitution than send him off to jail," said his defense attorney.

Chatman will have to pay the state almost $26,000 in restitution, and he's now a convicted felon, so he can't ever work in law enforcement again.

He lost his job as a Fresno County DA investigator during this probe
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