A former police officer from Ohio was charged Thursday with running a Ponzi scheme that defrauded retired police officers, firefighters and others of nearly 900,000 dollars, officials said.

The Justice Department said criminal information was filed against 49-year-old Raymond Thomas, who had been a member of the Warrensville Heights Police Department.

The complaint alleges that Thomas, from 1997 through July 2006, told potential investors he operated three legitimate investment companies that would make quarterly payments of "above average fixed returns with below average risk."

But according to prosecutors, Thomas did not invest the money but used incoming investments to pay prior investors in the Ponzi scheme.

"It is particularly troubling to discover that a former law enforcement officer has committed a crime, especially given that law enforcement officers take an oath to uphold the law," said US Attorney Steven Dettelbach in Cleveland.

"These charges allege that Thomas did more than just violate the laws he had sworn to uphold, they charge that he actually targeted the law enforcement community to sustain his Ponzi scheme."

Thomas was charged with mail fraud and tax fraud.