After surviving an embarrassing sexting scandal involving a drug informant last year, Payson Police Officer Josh LaManna, 34, lost his job after admitting that while on duty he sent lewd text messages to two other women and had sex with one after entering her home without permission.
LaManna, 34, resigned late last month in lieu of termination after Police Chief Don Engler discovered LaManna was sending and receiving sexually explicit pictures with two other women.
LaManna, an eight-year veteran, admitted to Engler he slept with one of the women while on duty. He could face criminal trespass charges for that incident because the woman claims she did not let LaManna into her home, although the sexual activity was consensual.
In an interview with Engler, LaManna said he had “royally screwed things up.”
Back in May of last year, Engler demoted LaManna from a narcotics officer to a patrol officer and imposed a 10 percent pay cut for a string of violations, including sending salacious pictures and sexually explicit cell phone messages to a confidential drug informant.
Engler said he had a very serious talk with LaManna after that incident, putting him on disciplinary probation for a year.
LaManna was reportedly still on probation when these other incidents occurred.
When Engler sat down with LaManna on May 21 to confront him about the recent missteps, Engler said he was disappointed LaManna hadn’t learned his lesson.
“You know, I stuck my neck out for ya,” Engler said according to a transcript of the conversation the Roundup obtained after filing a Freedom of Information request, “and here we are again. I made it real clear to you there’s no question in my mind that if you knew that, if there was any kind of infraction, that is where we were gonna be.”
Engler continued, “Well, you can understand Josh how disappointed I am in you because I actually gave you a chance the last time.”
LaManna said he had no good explanation for his actions.
“Yeah, I know, I, and I, this one, I, there was no rhyme or reason for it or anything whosoever. It just, it happened.”
What happened, according to the two women, only identified by their initials in an internal investigation report as M.D. and E.M., involved sexually explicit text messages and one instance of sexual intercourse with E.M.
Engler said a police volunteer tipped him off on May 21 about the incidents after they heard it from friends.
When Engler and Sgt. Joni Varga questioned M.D. about a relationship with LaManna, she reportedly told them they had exchanged sexual text messages, but never had sex.
The woman believed some of the messages sent on his personal cell phone were sent while LaManna was on duty.
When Engler and Varga spoke with E.M., she also admitted she had been involved with LaManna.
“She indicated that there had been a sexual relationship on one occasion and that he was on duty at the time,” Engler said in the internal investigation report.
E.M. said while the sex was consensual, she had never invited LaManna into her home.
“She said that he had come in through the sliding glass door in her bedroom and that she was awakened to him standing there and tickling her feet,” Engler said.
LaManna denied this and said E.M. had let him into her home.
“Josh LaManna readily admitted that he had interacted with her and had been sexting and texting with her (E.M.),” Engler said in the report. “When confronted about the actual situation involving having sexual relation with E.M. while on-duty, Josh LaManna admitted that that had occurred.”
LaManna also admitted to sexting M.D., but said he was off duty and using his personal phone.
On May 22, M.D. showed Engler the messages on her phone from LaManna and Engler confirmed they he sent them while on duty.
Engler sent the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board a summary of the events. After review, the board could revoke LaManna’s officer certification for having sex while on duty.
Engler told LaManna several times during the May 21 interview that he was frustrated with LaManna’s actions.
“With all that the department went through and, you went through, I mean I know you and your family went through a lot from the last one and, and you know, the discredit that’s come to the police department and everything over it and now here we are again so,” he said trailing off.
“Yeah,” LaManna said.
Later, LaManna said he regretted what he had done.
“I know this one’s solely me, this one’s solely me, I should have walked the hell back out of her apartment, I really should have, and I can’t, I don’t have excuses to why I did not,” he said to Engler.
Later, LaManna said he had been truthful with Engler and told him everything he could remember.
“I’m not gonna lie to ya, I’m not gonna ruin my credibility, I mean I’ve ruined my reputation, I’m just not gonna ruin my credibility, I’ve never been a dishonest person and I don’t plan to start any time soon.”
With LaManna’s resignation, the department has seven fewer officers than it did several years ago.
The department could lose another officer if Sgt. Don Kasl’s retires. Kasl is not accused of any wrongdoing and would be retiring of his own free will.