Two former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies were arrested in April and charged with trying to frame two workers at a medical marijuana dispensary.
Anthony Manuel Paez, 32, and Julio Cesar Martinez, 39, both were arrested April 18. They were each charged with two felony counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice and altering evidence. Martinez was also charged with felony perjury and filing a false report.
The two ex-cops face more than seven years in prison if convicted. They each were released on $50,000 bail and will be arraigned in June.
Prosecutors say the two former deputies, while still on the job, killed the electricity at an MMJ shop, planted guns, and disabled the security camera so they wouldn’t leave evidence.
The raid went down Aug. 24, 2011. The two deputies were patrolling when, they claimed, they spotted a drug deal. Martinez said he saw a man reach for a gun in his shorts pocket. He then saw the man ditch the gun next to a garbage bin inside the dispensary, he said.
The deputy followed the suspect into the store and called for a search warrant. But first, he kicked out a wall socket and killed power to the room, according to the complaint filed by prosecutors. Then Paez pulled a gun out of a drawer and put it on a chair, according to the complaint.
Paez placed another gun on a desk along with some ecstasy, the complaint alleges. He also crawled beneath the desk and turned off the security camera system.
The two deputies filed a report that claimed they found the two guns where they were placed, as well as the ecstasy. Two men who were working at the store were arrested and charged, one with possession of an unregistered gun, the other with possession of a controlled substance while armed with a gun.
Those charges were later dropped, though only after the men were subjected to the hospitality of Los Angeles County’s criminal justice system.
Only a year after the “bust” did the sheriff’s Internal Criminal Investigation Bureau investigate claims the deputies were crooked. That investigation turned up video from inside the dispensary that was “inconsistent” with the report filed by Martinez and Paez, prosecutors said.
It wasn’t clear when or why the two former deputies left the sheriff’s department.