By Richard Winton and Robert Faturechi
Two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies have been arrested and charged with lying about a drug bust.
Authorities say they discovered a videotape that contradicted the deputies’ account of the arrest.
Two deputies were charged with filing a false police report and conspiracy to commit a crime.
Sheriff’s deputies Robert G. Lindsey, 31, and Charles G. Rodriguez, 38, were charged Wednesday and surrendered to Sheriff’s Internal Criminal Affairs Bureau investigators Thursday in connection with the charges related to a June 3, 2011, drug arrest they made. They appeared in court Thursday but delayed arraignment until May 13.
“They have been relieved of duty without pay. We take this very seriously. They acted illegally and that is why we immediately investigated,” sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said. “They made an arrest June 3, 2011, involving drugs. Subsequently a video emerged that contradicted their statements in the police report.”
The investigation into the pair began after a defense attorney for the man arrested discovered a surveillance tape that contradicted the deputies’ description of their actions, said Jean Guccione, a spokeswoman for prosecutors.
Guccione said prosecutors dismissed the case against Abraham Rueda, the man arrested by the deputies, after reviewing the video.
Prosecutors say that Lindsey, an 8-year department veteran, wrote in an arrest report that he and his partner obtained information from an informant, who told them a man called “Abraham” was selling cocaine in the parking lot of the Durango Bar. The court papers do not say where the bar is located. Prosecutors say the bar is in Huntington Park.
Lindsey wrote that he contacted Abraham Rueda while Rueda was standing next to the driver’s door of a Lexus SUV. Prosecutors say that Lindsey wrote he “looked inside the driver’s window” and saw “a plastic baggie containing white powder cocaine in the air vent under the car stereo.”
But prosecutors said Lindsey’s claims didn’t add up. He actually contacted Rueda at the rear of the SUV, they said. Prosecutors say he was not in a position to see the drugs. The deputies turned in a small quantity of cocaine, prosecutors said.
According to prosecutors, Rodriguez wrote in his report that he had a tow truck take the Lexus SUV from the Durango Bar parking lot, but prosecutors in court documents said that Lindsey drove the SUV from the scene.
The two deputies face up to three years in prison if convicted of the charges, prosecutors said.