4 More Rampart Officers Linked to Tainted Cases

Tuesday, February 1, 2000

By MATT LAIT and SCOTT GLOVER, Times Staff Writers

The integrity of four more Los Angeles police officers will be called into question today when prosecutors seek the reversal of nine additional criminal convictions tainted by alleged police misconduct linked to the LAPD’s scandal-plagued Rampart Division.
In a sign that the corruption probe has taken a new turn, prosecutors will move for the first time to overturn convictions not directly involving former officer-turned-informant Rafael Perez, the man at the center of the investigation.
The cases in question involve a total of nine officers, four of whom have not been relieved of duty or disciplined in connection with the scandal, but who are under active investigation, sources said. One of the four newly implicated officers recently has resigned from the force.
“These officers were allegedly involved in the misconduct or knew something was going on and failed to disclose it,” said one source familiar with the investigation. “Obviously, they had to know something was going on.”
The source said some of the officers could face criminal charges as a result of their roles, and others could face internal discipline, or even termination, for “code of silence” or other offenses.
In at least two of the cases expected to be thrown out today Perez was not one of the arresting officers, according to sources within the district attorney’s office. Most of the convictions stemmed from fabricated drug and weapons charges, authorities said. Seven adults and two juveniles were wrongly convicted, district attorney officials said. One alleged victim is expected to be released from prison as a result of the district attorney’s petition. Four others will remain in custody on unrelated convictions, sources said.
If, as expected, a judge overturns the convictions, it will bring to 32 the number of cases thrown out in the wake of the ongoing corruption investigation.
“Our top priorities continue to be freeing the innocent who have been wrongly convicted, working with LAPD Chief Bernard Parks to remove any officer who has dishonored the badge, and developing evidence that will lead to the successful prosecution of officers involved in the corruption scandal,” Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti said in a prepared statement.
Parks announced last week that, to date, investigators believe 99 people were framed by Perez and his partners.
Prosecutors have proceeded cautiously in asking for the dismissal of criminal convictions. LAPD officials have complained that the pace is too slow. Parks called on the district attorney to move quickly and seek the mass reversal of dozens of convictions that investigators have verified are unjust, instead of continuing with a “case by case process.”
“The department is very encouraged that the D.A. is moving forward on these nine cases, and we hope the other cases will be acted on as soon as possible,” said LAPD Cmdr. David J. Kalish, the department’s spokesman.
Those expected to have their cases overturned are:
* George Kenneth Alfaro, who pleaded guilty to a drug charge and was sentenced to state prison. Alfaro is the only defendant whose release from custody is being sought by prosecutors.
* Sonia Castro, who pleaded guilty to a drug charge and was sentenced to county jail and probation. She is a fugitive after having failed to abide by the terms of probation.
* Transcito Hernandez Luna, who pleaded guilty to a drug charge in exchange for dismissal of another case. He was given two weeks to surrender in 1997 but failed to do so. A bench warrant was issued and is outstanding.
* Allan Manrique Lobos, who pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon. He remains in state prison for murder in an unrelated case.
* Julian Lopez Hernandez, who pleaded guilty to a drug charge and was sentenced to county jail. He is in state prison on an unrelated case.
* Michael Williams, who pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon and was sentenced to state prison. He is serving a 50-year-to-life term for an unrelated conviction.
* Laura Villatora, who pleaded guilty to possession of drugs for sale and was sentenced to state prison. She is serving time on an unrelated conviction and is expected to be deported upon her release later this month.
* Two unidentified juveniles, whose names and case information were withheld by authorities.
Perez, who in September pleaded guilty to stealing eight pounds of cocaine from LAPD evidence facilities, is hoping to receive a lighter sentence in exchange for cooperating with investigators. The ex-officer maintains that he is also motivated by a desire to clear his conscience.
The former cop said that over a three-year period beginning in 1995, he routinely planted drugs and weapons on innocent people, then perjured himself in court in an effort to send his victims to jail.
In his most sensational disclosure, Perez implicated himself and former partner Nino Durden in the shooting of an unarmed 19-year-old man. After shooting the man several times, Perez said he and Durden planted a gun on the gang member, then testified in court that he had attacked them. The man, Javier Francisco Ovando, was released from prison in September after serving three years of a 23-year sentence.
Perez has identified at least one other police shooting as “dirty.” Both shootings are the subject of an ongoing grand jury investigation.
A second officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, has since told The Times that he could corroborate a number of Perez’s allegations, and that such conduct took place with the knowledge of at least one Rampart Division supervisor.
So far, 20 officers have been relieved of duty, suspended, have quit or were fired in the wake of the continuing corruption investigation. Parks has publicly asked prosecutors to bring criminal charges against two current and one former LAPD officer stemming from alleged crimes uncovered during the probe.
Parks has vowed to root out corruption in his department and has more than 45 officers and detectives investigating the alleged wrongdoing.

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