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Man falsely arrested by deputies was sentenced in case, officials say

Law EnforcementCrime, Law and Justice

One of two men arrested in 2011 by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies now accused of planting guns as evidence pleaded no contest to a charge stemming from the false arrest and was sentenced to time in jail, officials said Wednesday.

Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, said Johnny Yang had already pleaded no contest to possessing ecstasy in the presence of a firearm before investigators determined the evidence was planted.

Yang was sentenced to a year in jail as a result, Robison said, but it was unclear how much time he served. Robison said prosecutors are now in the process of contacting Yang's attorney.

Calls to numbers listed in Yang's name were not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.

The district attorney's office said earlier in the day that the charges against both men were dismissed after the false report was discovered. Robison clarified that was only the case with one of the men, who was arrested on suspicion of having an unregistered gun.

Former deputies Julio Cesar Martinez, 39, and Anthony Manuel Paez, 32, have been charged with two felony counts of conspiring to obstruct justice and altering evidence, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. Martinez faces two additional felony counts of perjury and filing a false report.

Prosecutors said the men, who are scheduled to be arraigned June 17, each face more than seven years in state prison if convicted. The sheriff's department did not immediately comment on the allegations.

According to a complaint filed by prosecutors last week, Martinez claimed he saw a man take part in a drug deal and reach for a gun in his shorts pocket. The deputy said he then saw the man discard the gun near a trash bin inside a medical marijuana dispensary.

Before he got a search warrant, Martinez kicked a wall outlet and shut down power to the room, according to the complaint. Paez then allegedly opened a drawer, pulled out a gun and put it on a chair.

The complaint alleges Paez also planted a gun on top of an office desk, next to some ecstasy pills. At some point, Paez allegedly crawled under the desk and disabled the security camera system. 

Prosecutors said the deputies claimed in their report of the incident that they found one gun near the trash can and the other on the desk. 

The sheriff's Internal Criminal Investigation Bureau began investigating the incident a year later and discovered video from inside the dispensary that was "inconsistent" with the report filed by the deputies, prosecutors said Wednesday. Robison referred questions about the inquiry to the sheriff's department. 

Prosecutors described the men as former deputies, but it remains unclear when they left the department. Martinez and Paez were each arrested Friday and released later that day on $50,000 bail.

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kate.mather@latimes.com
Twitter: @katemather | Google+

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