PACE: Omaha organization cooperating with — but not target of — FBI investigation

City suspended all funding to PACE after notified of investigation into Omaha police officers, councilman
PACE, the Omaha Police athletic league, says it is cooperating with -- but not the target of -- a criminal investigation related to the searching of Omaha City
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 5:56 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - An organization that connects Omaha Police officers with families through sports said Monday that it is cooperating with an investigation into two OPD officers and a city councilman — an investigation that is not targeting the organization.

In a letter posted at the top of the PACE Omaha website, the chairman of the board says to the best of their knowledge, the organization was placed in “a very unfortunate situation because of an unrelated association with an ongoing investigation into alleged activities that occurred outside of the PACE organization.”

“PACE has fully cooperated with authorities since the beginning of their investigation, and will continue to do so going forward,” the letter states.

The board of the directors for PACE Omaha posted a letter on the top of the organization's...
The board of the directors for PACE Omaha posted a letter on the top of the organization's website stating that it was cooperating with the FBI investigation involving Omaha Police officers with ties to PACE.(WOWT / PACE Omaha)

Remember: The City of Omaha suspended all its funding to PACE after news broke in December that Councilman Vinny Palermo’s home — as well as the home of Officer Johnny Palermo, head of the National Latino Peace Officers Association Omaha chapter — were served search warrants by the FBI. So was a property registered to PACE. Officer Daniel Torres, a past president of the LPOA, is also under investigation.

The LPOA started PACE in 2005.

PACE points out that its previous executive director, Rich Gonzalez, voluntarily resigned his position on Jan. 19. The founder, Tony Espejo, has stepped in to be interim director.

Lance Jones, chairman of the board of directors for PACE, said the organization will continue to roll out spring and summer programming as planned — and that PACE has kept its word and continues to serve kids and their families.

“We have the full support of our private donors and our community supporters. We thank them for continuing their critical support of the PACE mission,” the letter states. “We are hopeful that in the very near future our public support from the city will be reinstated.”

Last year, PACE served 5,143 kids, according to its website.

Digital Director Gina Dvorak contributed to this story.