Former Cop Confesses To Robbing Drug Dealers

Jan 8, 2008 1:37 pm US/Pacific
Former Cop Confesses To Robbing Drug Dealers
Ex-Officer Testifies Against Alleged Co-Conspirators

LOS ANGELES (CBS) ―

justice_scalesFormer LAPD Officer Ruben Palomares testified Tuesday about home-invasion robberies that he performed in his police uniform along with others, allegedly including other former cops.

Former LAPD Officer Ruben Palomares testified Tuesday about home-invasion robberies that he performed in his police uniform along with others, allegedly including other former cops.

Ex-Los Angeles police Officer Ruben Palomares, who admitted being the ringleader of a group that robbed drug dealers, testified against his alleged co-conspirators Tuesday. Palomares, 37, appeared in prison garb, leg irons and handcuffs before the jury. He testified in detail about home-invasion robberies that he performed in his police uniform along with others, allegedly including former LAPD Officer William Ferguson, 35, and his 33-year-old brother, former Long Beach police Officer Joseph Ferguson.

Prosecutors say the group pulled off as many as 30 holdups between 1999 and 2001. Palomares and William Ferguson, once assigned to the LAPD’s Rampart Station, were fired in 2003.

Palomares told the court how he and William Ferguson would take squad cars from the Los Angeles Police Academy. Then, while in uniform, Palomares and Ferguson would search homes, saying they were on a drug investigation, he testified.

Palomares said he and William Ferguson would take drugs, money or whatever else appeared to be valuable. Ferguson, whom he called a “bloodhound,” was particularly adept at finding drugs and money, he said.

“I trusted him more than the other guys,” Palomares said. Palomares testified that “Armando,” who had ties to Mexican traffickers, tipped him off as to where drugs and cash were stored. After the robberies, the holdup crew would split the cash, give the drugs to a dealer and take a cut of the sales, he testified.

On one occasion, Palomares testified that he, William Ferguson and another man split $150,000 after robbing a home of cash and cocaine.

In some cases, members of the ring, including himself and William Ferguson, would steal jewelry and other items without telling their partners in crime, Palomares testified.

Joseph Ferguson, he said, was brought into the group at the behest of his older brother. On several occasions, Joseph Ferguson acted as a lookout while Palomares, William Ferguson and another co-conspirator, all in police uniforms, robbed homes.

Joseph Ferguson also called 911 to set up fellow co-conspirator David Barajas, who was spending his ill-gotten money recklessly, Palomares said. Barajas, who was on probation, was arrested for illegally possessing a gun and spent a year in jail, Palomares testified.

He also said he and Joseph Ferguson later laughed about the 911 call that led to Barajas’ arrest. The Ferguson brothers are being tried in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

David R. Reed, Joseph Ferguson’s attorney, said in his opening statement last week that some of the government’s witnesses are convicted felons facing “astronomical amounts of prison time.”

The Ferguson brothers are charged with depriving individuals of their constitutional rights under color of law, possession or attempted possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and brandishing a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.

Fifteen defendants previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the robberies, including Palomares, who was arrested on federal narcotics charges in 2001.

William Ferguson is jailed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles. Joseph Ferguson is free in lieu of $1 million bond.

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