First Three Rampart Officers Plead Innocent

Stand Accused Of Framing Reputed Gang Member

LOS ANGELES, Calif., Updated 1:26 p.m. PDT May 15, 2000

The first three Los Angeles police officers prosecuted in the Rampart corruption scandal pleaded innocent Monday to framing a reputed gang member.

Sgts. Edward Ortiz and Brian Liddy and Officer Paul Harper are accused of conspiring to file a false police report and to commit perjury. All three have been suspended.

Ortiz is accused of being the ringleader of a conspiracy to plant a 45-caliber semi-automatic weapon on suspect Allan Lobos on April 26, 1996. Liddy allegedly rubbed the gun against Lobos’ fingers to frame him for possession. Harper is charged with reporting false accusations against Lobos.

Former officer Raphael Perez said the three Rampart officers framed the defendant after they wrongly claimed that Lobos ran through a parking lot, withdrew a pistol and ducked between cars.

Attorneys for the policemen say that their clients are not guilty.

“This is a criminal accusation against these three officers and they deny committing the crime,” Harper’s attorney, Joel Isaacson, told CBS 2 News. “We are not here saying, ‘Well, they had to do these things because of the gang problem.’ That is not the defense in this case. The defense is that these officers didn’t do what is alleged by Mr. Perez.”

Lobos, the man who was allegedly framed, spent one year in jail. He was out on probation when he was arrested and convicted on a murder case. Lobos remains in jail and his status will not be affected by the officers’ case.

Ortiz has been implicated in several other allegedly bogus Rampart cases, CBS 2 News reported. The judge agreed to release Ortiz on his own recognizance over the prosecutor’s objections.

Liddy and Harper remain free in lieu of $75,000 bail.

In court, the judge also rejected the district attorney’s request for a gag order and turned down the defense’s request to ban cameras from the courtroom.

A July 3 preliminary hearing is scheduled to determine if there is enough evidence to require the three officers to stand trial.

To date, more than 70 criminal cases have been overturned because of suspected officer misconduct, and more than 20 officers have been fired, suspended, relieved of duty or have quit as a result of the scandal.

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