OAKLAND, Neb. -- A former northeast Nebraska police chief has pleaded guilty federal court to misusing public funds.

According to U.S. Attorney Steven Russell, 33-year-old Terry Poland of Fremont was arraigned and pleaded guilty on Friday. Poland, who worked as the Oakland Police chief, will surrender his law enforcement certification before his July 25 sentencing, and he agreed that he will not work as a law enforcement officer in the future. 

During February 2020 to January 2021, Poland purchased about 27 gift cards in four transactions from a sporting goods store operating in Nebraska, using the charge account that the City of Oakland had at the store. The total value of the gift cards that Poland acquired with Oakland’s funds was $14,631.00.

Poland used the gift cards to acquire items for the use of himself and family members.  Poland purchased among other things women’s and children’s clothing, an ice fishing house, an auger, fishing equipment and a basketball backboard. Poland acquired the basketball backboard on or about March 22, 2020, in the amount of $949.99. Poland made most purchases using the gift cards at store locations in Nebraska but made at least one purchase online. 

An outside auditor questioned the acquisition of the gift cards. At the request of the outside auditor, the Oakland City Clerk requested additional receipts from Poland. Poland stated that all the gift cards were used to purchase ammunition for the Oakland Police Department and provided to the City Clerk five purported receipts, each captioned “Purchase Statement.” Each Purchase Statement was purportedly from the store and reflected the purchase of ammunition on a particular date during August 2020 to January 2021.  

The purchase statements that Poland provided to the city clerk were phony, according investigators. They were not issued by the store, and the transactions, item numbers and item descriptions did not match the store’s records.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.