A Los Angeles police officer convicted of perjury and conspiracy after lying about the details of an arrest in court was sentenced Wednesday to community labor and three years' formal probation.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli ordered Manuel Bernardo Ortiz to perform 900 hours of California Department of Transportation work or graffiti removal.
Ortiz, 40, was charged in 2009 along with two fellow officers of lying under oath during a criminal trial about the details of an arrest in Hollywood.
Ortiz was convicted of a single count of perjury for his statements during a preliminary hearing.
Former officers Evan Samuel and Richard Amio were convicted of multiple counts of perjury for testifying falsely during different court proceedings. Samuel also wrote a probable cause report that contained inaccuracies.
All three officers also were convicted of one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Like his fellow officers, Ortiz avoided prison time, receiving a suspended three-year sentence. He received more hours of community labor than the other two. A different judge ordered Samuel to perform 750 hours and gave Amio 500 hours.
Defense attorney Bill Seki asked Lomeli to reconsider the number of hours for Ortiz, saying his client did not deserve the toughest sentence because "his culpability was far less than the other two." But the judge refused.
Prosecutors had asked for prison sentences for all three.
Amio and Samuel were convicted in November 2012, but a jury deadlocked on the charges against Ortiz. He was tried again this year, and a jury found him guilty in February.
Ortiz’s sentence comes five years after the criminal trial in which he, Samuel and Amio committed perjury. Charges against the defendant in that case, Guillermo Alarcon Jr., were abruptly dropped when Alarcon’s defense attorney presented in court a video that contradicted all three officers’ testimony.
Ortiz's fellow officers testifed that they saw Alarcon throw away a sharp black object while they chased him into his Hollywood apartment. The officers said in court that former officer Samuel had quickly located the box and found it stuffed with crack and powder cocaine.
But the video showed that in fact it took multiple officers about 20 minutes of searching to find the box. The video also featured officers talking about Ortiz finding the box, which directly contradicted Ortiz's testimony during the preliminary hearing in which he claimed he did not participate in the search.
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