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L.A. County deputy charged with taking bribes to fix tickets

Trials and ArbitrationLaw EnforcementJustice SystemCrimeFBILos Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Sheriff's deputy accused of accepting bribes to fix 8 tickets could get nearly 10 years in prison
Deputy Edwin Tamayo, charged in ticket scheme, helped FBI investigate department for fundraising violations

A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who once helped the FBI in a corruption probe of sheriff's officials was charged Thursday with accepting bribes in return for fixing traffic tickets.

County prosecutors accused Edwin Allan Tamayo, 44, of accepting $1,000 in cash from a motorist at an Islands restaurant in Agoura Hills in exchange for fixing three traffic tickets in 2012.

Tamayo, who worked at the department's Lost Hills station, is also accused of fixing a ticket for a person who donated $500 in 2011 to sponsor a Sheriff's Department group at a golf tournament held by the Malibu Chamber of Commerce. The deputy played in one of two department foursomes that participated in the tournament, according to a copy of the charges provided by the district attorney's office.

Tamayo is accused of fixing a total of eight tickets, including one that was referred to him by a lieutenant whose acquaintance had been issued a citation.

In some cases, Tamayo is accused of contacting other deputies about the tickets, though the complaint does not say whether the deputies agreed to help him or knew what he was doing. In another case, he is accused of falsely certifying that a motorist who was given a ticket for illegally tinted windows had corrected the problem.

The charges — which include accepting bribes, preparing false documentary evidence and conspiring to obstruct justice — carry up to nine years and eight months in prison, a district attorney's spokesman said.

Tamayo's attorney, Jacob Glucksman, says his client maintains his innocence and that investigators may not know the entire story about what occurred.

"We're optimistic that through this process much more will be exposed and brought out that will give light to the circumstances surrounding these allegations," Glucksman said.

Tamayo is scheduled to appear in court on June 25. The 13-year department veteran has been on paid leave since February 2013 pending the outcome of the Sheriff's Department's internal investigation.

Shortly after he was relieved of duty, Tamayo wore a wire for the FBI and secretly recorded a Sheriff's Department supervisor as part of a federal investigation into allegations of improper campaign fundraising, the deputy and his attorneys told The Times last year.

Tamayo said FBI agents asked him to wear the wire after he told them that a captain gathered him and other subordinates at a patrol station barbecue pit and ordered them to sell tickets to a 2011 fundraiser for Carmen Trutanich's unsuccessful bid for district attorney. The investigation has not resulted in charges.

In the case filed in state court Thursday, prosecutors allege that Tamayo fixed traffic tickets by either intercepting them before they were sent to court for processing or by removing court notices sent to deputies who had issued the citations.

The complaint says that in August 2012, Saad Alessa provided the deputy with copies of three sheriff's tickets he had been issued. Two of the tickets were for speeding and the third was for failing to stop at a stop sign, said district attorney's spokesman Greg Risling.

Tamayo arranged to meet with Alessa at an Islands restaurant, where Alessa handed over $1,000 he had just withdrawn from a savings account, according to the complaint.

Tamayo intercepted two of the tickets at the Lost Hills sheriff's station before they were filed in court, the complaint said. Tamayo contacted Alessa and told him to ask the court for a trial by "written declaration" for the third citation, prosecutors allege. When Alessa did so, the court sent a notice to the deputy who had issued the ticket, asking for a written declaration about what had led to the citation. Tamayo intercepted the court's notice and later intercepted a follow-up notice telling the deputy that the citation had been dismissed, the complaint said.

Alessa could not be reached for comment.

In 2011, the complaint said, Lt. Vance Duffy provided Tamayo with information about a ticket issued to an acquaintance who was fighting her citation at the Chatsworth courthouse. Tamayo is accused of monitoring locations in the Lost Hills station in an attempt to intercept the court's notice to the deputy who had issued the ticket.

In December 2011, Duffy sent Tamayo an email asking for an update, the complaint said.

"I will let you know when it comes in then your friend will get their $ back," Tamayo allegedly wrote back.

Duffy declined to comment.

jack.leonard@latimes.com

cindy.chang@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Trials and ArbitrationLaw EnforcementJustice SystemCrimeFBILos Angeles County Sheriff's Department
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