California officer charged with lying about mafia ties
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles-area police officer was charged with lying to investigators looking into whether he has connections to the Mexican Mafia and Armenian organized crime, prosecutors said.
Glendale police Detective John Balian was taken into custody Tuesday at his home in Seal Beach, the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles said. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney.
Balian, 45, was charged with lying to several police agencies during interviews over a six-month period last year.
Prosecutors say he lied to hide associations with gang members, the Mexican mafia and Armenian organized crime.
He was expected to appear Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
A street gang member and Mexican Mafia associate told investigators that Balian relayed key law enforcement information to criminals about investigations and was involved in extortion plots, according to prosecutors.
Balian is accused of lying about his ties to a Mexican Mafia member and “shot caller” for a street gang who is facing federal racketeering charges.
Balian used a disposable cellphone to discuss criminal activities, investigators allege.
“If the allegations in this case are proven, this police officer provided meaningful support to criminal enterprises, and his attempts to cover up his associations served to obstruct justice,” said U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna.
He could face up to five years in prison if convicted.