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Breaking News

Plea Agreement Reached in Los Angeles Police Corruption Case

Aired March 30, 2001 - 12:03 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Apparently, there has been a plea agreement in the scandal involving the Rampart Division in the Los Angeles Police Department.

For the latest on that, let's bring in our Charles Feldman, who's in our Los Angeles bureau.

Charles, hello.

CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, good morning.

This is, by any means, is a major breakthrough in the now almost two-year-long probe into corruption of the Los Angeles Police Department. CNN has learned that there is going to be a plea agreement between the federal and state government here in California -- but, most importantly, the federal government -- and a former officer in the anti-drug and anti-gang unit formerly known as CRASH.

The significance of that is this: Up until now, the entire corruption probe has been based on the testimony of one former police officer, Rafael Perez. He was caught stealing drugs; he copped a plea, and in exchange for that, he told stories of police abuse ranging from planting evidence to shooting unarmed and innocent people.

For, the very first time, CNN has learned, his former partner, a man by the name of Nino Durden, will enter a plea with the federal government and with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. In exchange for that plea, Nino Durden is expected to back up much of what Rafael Perez has had to say about corruption within the ranks of the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police Department.

This probe has thus far led to the setting aside of more than 100 wrongful convictions, and 70 police officers have now been under investigation. It has been the key bit of investigation in the city for two years now. It has been the biggest corruption scandal to hit the LAPD in its entire history.

The investigation, however, had been stalled for a good many months because of the difficulty in getting police officers who might have knowledge of corruption to come forward and give testimony. So this development, CNN has been told, is a potential and major breakthrough in the effort of law enforcement officials to crack the code of silence and bring potentially corrupt police officers within the ranks of the LAPD to justice -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Charles, exactly what do they expect to get out of this: additional convictions, other officers to come forward?

FELDMAN: Yes, exactly. In fact, of one of the things I'm told that they're hoping, one source I talked to last night said that some people think that this may be the hole in the dam now that Nino Durden, this former partner of Rafael Perez, is going to enter this plea agreement. They think that other officers may see -- quote -- "the writing on the wall" and come forward and give their testimony.

This is a significant development by any measure.

KAGAN: And do you have any details on what Nino Durden is getting in connection with this?

FELDMAN: No, I don't, but there will be a news conference a few hours from now at the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. In attendance will be the district attorney, the U.S. attorney, and the FBI. It's not known whether the chief of the LAPD, Chief Bernard Parks, will be in attendance too.

KAGAN: Very good, Charles Feldman, in our Los Angeles bureau, talking about the break, that plea agreement in the scandal in the investigation into the Los Angeles Police Department and the corruption in the Rampart Division. Thank you so much for those details -- I'm sure we'll have more in that news conference, in just a bit -- Charles Feldman, thank you.

FELDMAN: Thank you.

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