Four officers indicted in stolen property case

SAN DIEGO - Four former San Diego police officers and three men from Chicago have been indicted for their part in a scheme to bring stolen sinks, toilets and other plumbing supplies from Chicago and selling them to friends and co-workers.

The former traffic division officers operated a scheme in which they paid a warehouse manager with cash, trips to Las Vegas or sexual favors for the stolen goods, according to a federal indictment.

A fourth officer, Detective Sherri Jackson of the sex crimes unit, was indicted for interfering with the federal probe by alerting an officer's wife about a wire tap. Jackson resigned Wednesday.

FBI agents in February searched the traffic officers' homes and all three resigned about a month later.

''One cannot hide behind their badge or their position because along with the federal investigative agencies here you will be investigated and if appropriate you will be prosecuted,'' U.S. attorney Gregory Vega said Wednesday.

The federal indictment accuses Anthony Rodriguez, a 12-year veteran of the Police Department, of purchasing the stolen property.

In a separate indictment, he and his wife, Janet Rodriguez, 31, who live in Julian, were charged with conspiracy to transport 220 pounds of marijuana around the country in a motorhome. Rodriguez, 37, is also accused of using Police Department computers to gather information about drug dealers.

Charged with transporting stolen goods were former officer Frank Almond, 47, of Lakeside, and a 13-year-veteran of the force; former officer Jim Coleman, 36, of Ramona, and a 12-year veteran of the force; Rodriguez's father, Joseph Rodriguez, 44, of Chicago Heights, Ill.; and Javier Peralta, 38, of Steger, Ill.

Coleman and Rodriguez were also charged with possessing illegal weapons - two silencers and two automatic weapons. Coleman has pleaded guilty to five felony charges.

Perfecto Ochoa III, 44, of Palos Heights, Ill., a warehouse manager for Builder's Plumbing and Heating Supply in South Holland, Ill., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen goods.

Only Anthony Rodriguez remained in custody on $50,000 bond, said Deborah Hartman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office. The others were released on bond, but Hartman did not know the amount of their bail.

Messages left with four defense lawyers were not immediately returned after business hours Wednesday. Lawyers for the others could not immediately be located.

The FBI discovered the crime while looking into another case.

A federal grand jury interviewed several police officers who unwittingly bought sinks, toilets and other plumbing supplies at a discounted price.

FBI agents armed with search warrants searched the officers' homes on Feb. 17 seeking building materials, documents, sinks, faucets, power tools and other items that would link them to the crimes.

The matter is a federal investigation because authorities believe stolen property was transported across state lines.

Police Chief David Bejarano said the officers' crimes were ''quite painful'' for the department but do not reflect the integrity of the department's more than 2,800 other employees.

''This is unacceptable behavior and simply will not be tolerated by this department,'' Bejarano said.


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