LOCAL L.A. Now

Ex-Long Beach cop accused of helping gang due in court Friday

A former Long Beach police officer is due in court Friday on a felony conspiracy charge after she allegedly passed information to the city's Baby Insane Crips street gang through a relative, prosecutors said.

Yvonne Robinson, 42, faces one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, along with a gang allegation, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said. 

Prentice Jones, the 24-year-old brother of Robinson's brother-in-law, was charged with the same count and allegation, prosecutors said. He was described by prosecutors as an "active member" of the Baby Insane Crips.

Both Robinson and Jones, who were arrested and charged in December, are scheduled to be arraigned Friday. If convicted of the charges, prosecutors said, they each face up to six years in state prison.

Prosecutors allege Robinson -- who spent 13 years with the Long Beach Police Department and most recently worked as a detective in the investigation bureau's juvenile section -- conspired with Jones "to obstruct several investigations," including a homicide case involving the gang.

Long Beach police said their inquiry began about two months before a June 2012 sting on the Baby Insane Crips regarding a series of shootings and the 2009 killing of 19-year-old Frank Castro Jr. Sixteen alleged gang members were arrested in that bust, among them two suspects in the Castro slaying, police said.

During the homicide investigation, detectives had learned someone in the gang was being provided with details of the case to aid the suspects involved, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell said.

The leaked information appeared to come from someone within the Police Department, officials said, so a full-scale criminal investigation was launched. 

"Detectives did not hesitate to investigate one of their own," McDonnell said when announcing Robinson's arrest. "We will not tolerate actions that dishonor the badge that we wear so proudly."

Robinson was placed under surveillance during the investigation, police said. After several months, investigators had enough evidence to allege she was using her position as a detective to review police reports and provide information to Jones, who then passed it on to gang leaders.

A felony complaint detailed 21 encounters involving Robinson and Jones beginning March 26, 2012, when the detective allegedly called Jones after police issued a press release regarding the Castro slaying investigation.

The complaint also alleged Robinson told Jones he was being followed by a surveillance unit, tried to get him off a gang injunction, and told him that she knew the identifies of the suspects in the killing but had not told police.

Jones allegedly passed some of the information to other suspected gang members, according to the complaint, and referred to Robinson as "the police lady" and his "inside connect."

Long Beach police officials said Robinson was placed on administrative leave in July 2012 and stripped of her police powers while the department conducted an internal investigation. She was terminated in March 2013 after the conclusion of the investigation.

Long Beach police officials said in December it was the first case they could recall where an officer faced gang enhancement charges.

"It's extremely disappointing when the behavior of one individual undermines the public's trust that this department works so hard to uphold,” McDonnell said. 

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kate.mather@latimes.com

ruben.vives@latimes.com

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