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Jurors deadlock on whether ex-deputy lied about finding drugs

Jurors deadlock on criminal charges that ex-sheriff's deputy lied about finding drugs in patrol car

Jurors were unable to reach a verdict on whether a former L.A. County sheriff’s deputy lied and filed a false arrest report in connection with allegations that he made up finding drugs in a patrol car after transporting a woman.

A judge declared a mistrial Monday in the case, which stemmed from a 2009 traffic stop in which then-Deputy Francisco Enriquez, 38, wrote that he drove the suspect to a sheriff's station and discovered several bags of methamphetamine in the patrol car after she was taken out.

Prosecutors, however, said Tatiana Anjuli Lopez was transported by another deputy, not Enriquez.

Jurors began deliberating last Thursday. They deadlocked 7-5 in favor of not guilty of perjury for allegedly lying in a probable cause declaration and 6-6 on a count of filing a false arrest report, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Gretchen Ford.

Enriquez had faced up to five years in prison on both charges.

Ford presented evidence that Lopez had never been in Enriquez’s car and had instead been taken for for booking by another deputy on Oct. 7, 2009.

Enriquez and two other deputies in a separate patrol vehicle pulled over the car of Lopez's fiance, Miguel Amarillas, at a Downey gas station. Enriquez alleged the couple appeared to be under the influence of drugs, and both were transported to a sheriff’s station.

Enriquez swore under penalty of perjury that he found methamphetamine in his patrol car, apparently left by Lopez, after dropping her off. In a search of the couple’s Downey apartment, Enriquez alleged that he found more meth.

But male deputies are required to make special calls to dispatch when transporting females. Radio transmissions showed that another deputy took Lopez and her dog to the sheriff's station, according to prosecutors.

Sheriff’s officials opened an investigation in early 2010 that resulted in Enriquez's termination. Prosecutors filed criminal charges against him in July 2012.

During a preliminary hearing Lopez testified that while she was in a holding cell she overheard Enriquez telling another deputy that he had “planted” the evidence.

Lopez had been charged with a felony. But the case was dismissed after sheriff's radio communications revealed another deputy told dispatchers he was transporting Lopez.

Enriquez’s attorney, Vicky Podberesky. however, insisted he made a good arrest of Lopez and her fiance, Amarillas, based on information from a criminal informant and narcotics stakeout.

Enriquez's lawyer argued that while the radio call reflected another deputy transported the woman, he in fact brought her to the jail and recovered the drugs from the back of his patrol car.

Prosecutors have yet to announce whether they will refile charges. They are set to return to court May 29 to announce a decision. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has already paid a $550,000 civil settlement to resolve wrongful arrest claims related to the arrests.

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