Sentencing delayed for ex-policeman at center of scandal
LOS ANGELES – A disgraced ex-policeman at the center of a major corruption scandal had his sentencing delayed Tuesday while authorities seek more corroboration of allegations he made about fellow officers.
Rafael Perez has a plea bargain guaranteeing him a five-year sentence for cocaine theft in return for his cooperation with an investigation of misdeeds in the Police Department’s Rampart area.
Sentencing is likely to spell the end to Perez’s interrogations, and authorities appeared unwilling to let go of him just yet.
”The district attorney and the Los Angeles Police Department must do further investigation to make sure the defendant has complied with the plea agreement,” said Deputy District Attorney Richard Rosenthal.
Perez, wearing a blue jail uniform, made a brief courtroom appearance and agreed to the continuance. His lawyer, Winston Kevin McKesson, said outside court that Perez was disappointed, having expected to finally resolve the case.
”He’s disappointed, but he’s a tough guy and he’s going to roll with the punches,” said McKesson.
Perez, seeking a reduced sentence for stealing cocaine from an evidence locker, offered up information about fellow Rampart station officers, linking them to lies, thefts, planting evidence and a shooting which paralyzed a man and put him in prison.
”He’s still cooperating with the investigation,” said McKesson. ”They want independent corroboration further than what they have now.”
Perez’s case has been pending for nearly two years, and McKesson said that with credit for time served and good behavior, he could be released within a few months after he is sentenced. His future could involve witness stand testimony against other officers who may be prosecuted in the widening corruption probe.
Asked if the five-year sentence was relatively light, McKesson bristled and said, ”If you put your life on the line and have to look over your shoulder for the rest of your life, that’s not a light sentence.”
Superior Court Judge Robert Perry set a new sentencing date of Feb. 25
Perez was charged last year with stealing eight pounds of cocaine from a police evidence room. His initial trial ended in a jury deadlock. He pleaded guilty Sept. 8.
In the meantime, Officer Samuel Martin, one of several officers suspended because of Perez’s information, filed a petition Tuesday to get evidence from the LAPD relating to his friendship with Perez and former Officer David Mack.
The department has refused to hand over videotapes, audio tapes, reports and notes from interviews regarding the officers’ relationship, the petition said.
The petition claims that some of the interviews could provide character evidence for Martin and exonerate him.
Martin was suspended for making misleading statements about a trip to Las Vegas with Perez and Mack two days after a bank robbery. Mack was later convicted in the bank robbery.