First arrest warrants issued in police corruption scandal

LOS ANGELES - The first three arrest warrants in the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart station corruption scandal were issued today, a district attorney's spokeswoman said.

Sgts. Edward Ortiz and Brian Liddy and Officer Paul Harper will turn themselves in at a police station this morning, Geoffrey Garfield, a spokesman for the Police Protective League, said.

The union lobbied to give officers a chance to turn themselves in after the Los Angeles Times reported they would not be allowed to surrender.

''Even former convicts can arrange a civilized arrest,'' Garfield said.

The Times, citing confidential sources, reported that the three were being charged for allegedly framing a suspected gang member on a weapons charge in April 1996.

The three men, who have been on paid leave, have also been named in other corruption investigations, the Times reported. The men must be charged within two days, before the statute of limitations on their alleged crimes expires.

The charges follow heated public disagreement between Garcetti and Parks, who has criticized prosecutors for moving too slowly against corrupt officers.

Garcetti has countered that he had to move slowly to build a stronger case against the accused.

Ortiz, 43, Liddy, 38, and Harper, 33, will likely face charges of perjury, falsifying an arrest report and conspiracy for allegedly planting a gun on Allan Lobos during a raid at a a party thrown by the notorious 18th Street gang, the newspaper reported.

Attempts to reach the three officers by telephone this morning were unsuccessful.

In a report on the raid, Liddy wrote that he watched Lobos draw a semiautomatic pistol from his waistband and hide it on top of the front wheel of a nearby car as partygoers fled officers.

After Lobos was detained, Liddy said he asked another officer, Rafael Perez, to retrieve the weapon. Perez would later become the central figure in the corruption scandal after agreeing to name other rogue officers in exchange for a lesser sentence for stealing cocaine from a police evidence locker.

Perez denies Liddy directed him to the weapon. He said the gun was pointed out by another officer during a routine search and speculated that Liddy planted it on Lobos.

''I gave him the gun, and whatever he wrote (in the report) later was fine ... It was his call,'' Perez told investigators in an October 1999 interview.

Lobos pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a gun and was sentenced to a year in county jail and three years probation. His conviction was among the 67 tainted cases overturned since the investigation began, but he remains in prison on a murder conviction.

Lobos was interviewed by investigators last December, according to court documents, and said he was held at gunpoint by Liddy and Harper when another officer found the gun.

When he could not say who owned the gun during an interview at the Rampart station, ''Liddy told him that he was going to jail for the gun and rubbed it up against Lobos' fingers'' to mark them with fingerprints, the documents said.

In addition, prosecutors have since compared recordings of radio communications between officers during the raid and found discrepancies in Liddy's report, sources told the Times.

Ortiz is accused of helping to cover up the alleged officer wrongdoing, according to investigation documents obtained by the Times.

At least 30 Los Angeles Police Department officers, including three sergeants, have been relieved of duty in the wake of the corruption probe, which involves officers accused of framing, beating and sometimes shooting innocent people.


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