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Ex-sheriff's deputies charged with planting evidence at pot dispensary

Law EnforcementCrime, Law and Justice

Two former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies have been charged with conspiracy, perjury and altering evidence in connection with planting guns inside a medical marijuana dispensary to justify two arrests in 2011, prosecutors said.

Julio Cesar Martinez, 39, and Anthony Manuel Paez, 32, were charged with one felony count each of conspiracy to obstruct justice and altering evidence as a peace officer, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. Martinez was also charged with two felony counts of perjury and one of filing a false report.

Both men were booked Friday and released on $50,000 bail each. They are scheduled to be arraigned June 17. Prosecutors said if the former deputies are convicted of the charges, they face more than seven years in state prison.

Prosecutors allege the former deputies wrote a report claiming that on Aug. 24, 2011, as they patrolled West 84th Place, they observed a narcotics transaction involving a person with a gun. Martinez said he followed that suspect into the dispensary, where he found two guns: one near a trash bin and another on a desk next to some ecstasy pills.

Two men were arrested: one for possession of an unregistered gun and the second for possession of a controlled substance while armed with a gun. Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, said charges were filed against the men but later dropped.

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.

Robison referred questions about the inquiry to the Sheriff's Department, which did not immediately comment. It remains unclear when Martinez and Paez left the department. 

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kate.mather@latimes.com

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