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Cottonwood Heights police officer Beau Babka, who last year ran for Salt Lake County sheriff, is under criminal investigation and the city has placed him on leave.

"We will be making a submission to [the Salt Lake County district attorney] by the end of the week," said Cottonwood Heights police Chief Robbie Russo.

Russo declined to specify the allegations against Babka, but sources told The Salt Lake Tribune Babka is suspected of using a Cottonwood Heights city credit card to buy gasoline for his personal vehicle. If proven, the purchases could be considered a felony under Utah criminal statutes prohibiting the misuse of public money.

Babka did not return messages seeking comment on Wednesday.

Russo would not discuss Babka's purchasing but said: "We routinely audit every purchase every month."

Babka has been one of the most-high profile police officers in Utah for nearly two decades. He joined the South Salt Lake Police Department in 1991 and by 1994 had become a spokesman for the department. South Salt Lake's mayor appointed Babka chief of police in January 2006. That December, Babka left to become Salt Lake County undersheriff.

Sheriff Jim Winder released Babka in 2008 after Babka had applied for a position in Orange County, Calif. Cottonwood Heights was forming its own police department at the time and hired Babka as an officer.

In 2004, Babka ran for Congress as a Democrat and lost to Republican Chris Cannon in Utah's 3rd District. Babka switched parties in 2010 to run against Winder, a Democrat. Winder won with 56 percent of the vote.

Babka continues to serve as an adjunct instructor in the criminal justice program at Salt Lake Community College.

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