LAPD Scandal Sentencing Expected
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The disgraced officer who blew the whistle on one of the worst police scandals in the city’s history faced a five-year prison sentence for stealing cocaine.
Rafael Perez was scheduled to be sentenced today in Los Angeles County Superior Court under a plea bargain that grants him immunity for other crimes he has admitted to investigators, said District Attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons.
Perez was arrested in August 1998 for investigation of stealing eight pounds of cocaine from an evidence room. Seeking leniency, he began telling investigators about alleged misconduct among fellow officers, contending they beat, framed, stole from and shot innocent people in the city’s crime-ridden Rampart area, near downtown.
Twenty officers have been relieved of duty and 40 tainted convictions have been overturned since Perez began talking. Several hundred more cases are under review. The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office have recently joined the Los Angeles Police Department in investigating the scandal.
Perez’s first trial in December 1998 ended in a hung jury. Last September, he pleaded guilty to eight counts of theft and drug possession. He could have faced up to 14 years in prison.
``I believe firmly that we had a good chance of acquittal,″ said his attorney, Winston Kevin McKesson. ``He made some mistakes. He’s accepting responsibility for those mistakes.″
The arrangement was necessary to reveal the scandal, Gibbons said.
``He was the one,″ she said. ``Nobody knew about this other stuff until Perez started talking.″