A Santa Ana police officer who three years ago was named detective of the year was charged Tuesday with sending sexually graphic messages to a decoy who pretended to be a 14-year-old girl, authorities said.

Gregory Daniel Beaumarchais, 43, has been charged with one misdemeanor of annoying or molesting a victim believed to be under 18. Beaumarchais, who surrendered to authorities Tuesday, has been on administrative leave since being identified as a suspect in the sexting investigation.

Beaumarchais, a Santa Ana police officer since 2011, was named the department’s detective of the year in 2019 and helped form its major enforcement team to suppress major crimes a year later.

“Police officers are entrusted with the sacred responsibility to safeguard society from harm,” said Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer. “It is beyond disturbing that a sworn police officer would engage in inappropriate conversations with someone he believed to be a child. Our children should not have to worry about being preyed upon by the very people we teach them who are there to protect them. The vast majority of police officers are the trusted authority figures we expect them to be and when an officer engages in criminal behavior, it tarnishes the badge of all of our hard-working law enforcement officers.”

Orange County investigators working with Homeland Security Investigations tracked down the detective after the decoy contacted O.C. Crime Stoppers to inform them of the messages that were being sent by someone claiming to be a 45-year-old police officer.

Hi-tech crimes investigators documented Beaumarchais sending graphic messages to the civilian decoy between December 2021 and January 2022. Even after access to his social media platform was cut off by the provider, Beaumarchais is accused of creating another account under a similar social media handle, according to prosecutors.

If convicted, Beaumarchais will be required to register as a sex offender and will face up to a year in the Orange County Jail.

“Today’s filing of criminal charges for showing sexual interest in children shows no one is above the law when it comes to keeping communities free from predators,” said Shawn Gibson, acting Special Agent in Charge, HSI Los Angeles. “HSI is grateful for the collaboration with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to get these predators out of our communities and into the justice system.”

The detective was part of the unit that responds to most high-priority criminal incidents in Santa Ana. In 2016 he was one of three officers involved in a police shooting.

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