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Ex-L.A. cop gets two years in shooting

Ex-L.A. cop gets two years in shooting

From Stanley Wilson
CNN Los Angeles Bureau

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Former Los Angeles police officer Rafael Perez, whose admissions of abuse and corruption in the department led to the reversal of more than 100 wrongful convictions, was sentenced Monday to two years in federal prison.

Perez, 34, dressed in a business suit, appeared before Judge Christina Snyder and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Javier Francisco Ovando, who was shot and subsequently framed by Perez and his former partner, Nino Durden, in 1996.

Perez also admitted to a second felony count of possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number that he used to frame Ovando.

The judge ordered Perez to surrender to authorities on June 6 to begin his prison term.

Perez was released from custody in last July after serving nearly three years in jail as part of a plea bargain with state prosecutors for stealing eight pounds of cocaine from a police evidence room.

In exchange for his cooperation, Perez received immunity from state prosecutors after revealing his role in alleged widespread corruption and police abuse in the LAPD's Rampart Division's anti-gang unit.

Case file: LAPD Scandal 

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After a two-year investigation into Perez's claims, federal authorities concluded his state deal did not include federal immunity and opened a separate investigation that included a civil rights case against Perez.

In the Ovando incident, Perez said he and Durden shot Ovando several times during a gang surveillance operation and conspired to cover up the shooting by planting a gun on Ovando and lying about it in court.

Ovando, paralyzed from the shooting, was later convicted of assaulting the officers and sent to prison in 1997. He was released from a 23-year sentence after investigators determined he had been framed.

He reached a settlement with Los Angeles for $15 million, the largest police abuse settlement in the city's history.

Throughout his interrogation, Perez described how he and his former partners in the Rampart Division's anti-gang unit routinely planted drugs and guns on suspects, fabricated arrest reports, beat suspects in custody and in some cases shot unarmed, innocent people during gang sweeps in a crime-plagued region west of downtown Los Angeles.


The scandal led to the reversal of more than 100 criminal convictions of men and women, many of them later deported for violating immigration laws.

Los Angeles also signed a consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department requiring federal oversight of the police department's management and training policies.

The city has so far paid more than $45 million in civil lawsuits related to the corruption scandal, but some city officials estimate the costs could exceed $125 million when the remaining cases are settled.

As part of his plea, Perez agreed to pay full restitution to the victims of his abuse and will not profit from any of his admitted crimes by selling any part of his life story.

Federal authorities are pursuing more charges against current and former LAPD officers as part of the ongoing investigation into alleged corruption in the Rampart Division, according to spokesman Thom Mrozek of the U.S. attorney's office.

Nino Durden, right, will be sentenced in May.
Nino Durden, right, will be sentenced in May.  

Since the corruption probe began nearly four years ago, eight officers have been charged with criminal misconduct.

More than 70 officers in the LAPD's Rampart Division faced allegations of misconduct, but most of the cases were dismissed because of insufficient evidence or because the statute of limitations had expired.

Last year, Perez's former partner Durden entered into a plea agreement with state and federal prosecutors for his cooperation into the corruption scandal.

He is expected to serve at least seven years and eight months in prison when he is sentenced May 20.




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