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LAKEPORT
Jury selection begins in ex-officer's trial

Jury selection began Tuesday in the case of a former Lakeport police officer charged with theft of government funds for allegedly having sex while on the job and working on his home while being paid to be on duty.

Richard Edward Erickson is charged with embezzlement of government funds, making criminal threats, battery, stalking and violation of a protective order, according to Deputy District Attorney Rachel Abelson.

Erickson, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, faces a maximum of about six years in prison if convicted.

Opening statements in his trial are expected to begin early next week, Abelson said.

According to court records, Erickson began an affair with a woman in 2005 when she was 18 and while he was married. The two knew each other previously because she'd attended school with Erickson's son, according to the records.

They began a sexual relationship after a chance meeting at the county fair. According to court records, Erickson had sex with the young woman at least 30 times while on duty.

They met in deserted lots near abandoned buildings and the county works yard, according to court documents.

While on duty, Erickson also spent time at his home, which was under construction, according to court records.

Erickson also allegedly followed the teen and watched her while she was at work, resulting in the stalking charge against him.

He was charged with making threats for allegedly telling the young woman he would bury her underneath a hill if she told anyone about the relationship, according to court records.

Erickson was placed on paid administrative leave for four months last year during the investigation of the allegations. His 11-year employment with the department ended Oct. 3, shortly after he was arrested, according to Lakeport Police Chief Kevin Burke.

Erickson's trial is being held in the Clearlake branch of the Lake County Superior Court.

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