A smartphone app that was supposed to help reduce crime at the nation’s busiest seaport is at the center of a different kind of crime involving the police chief who heads homeland security operations at the Port of Los Angeles.
A federal grand jury named Ronald Jerome Boyd in a 16-count indictment that alleged Boyd was involved in a kickback and bribery scheme involving the development of a smartphone app, called PortWatch.
Boyd, who was put on administrative leave last week, was also charged with wire fraud, lying to FBI agents, tax evasion and failing to file federal corporate tax returns, according to an Associated Press report in Security InfoWatch.
Federal authorities said the charges stem from a project involving the development of a smartphone app that was supposed to notify the public of emergencies and allow people to report crimes at the sprawling port complex.
Behind the app, however, was an arrangement that netted Boyd a portion of the revenues from a similar app, called Metrowatch, in exchange for the developer — a company called BDB Digital Communications — getting the contract to deliver PortWatch to the city’s Harbor Department, according the indictment.
Boyd was quoted in an October 2012 news release, saying, “We believe that our PortWatch app is the first of its kind nationally and our hope is that it will provide for a better means of disseminating critical information to our constituents and a more meaningful and speedy response to any reported incident,” according to the AP account.
A longtime law enforcement agent, Boyd became chief of the Los Angeles Port Police in 2004, where he reportedly supervised 204 sworn officers who oversaw 43 miles of waterfront encompassing the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. In January, he began overseeing divisions that handle emergency, homeland security and information technology.