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Ex-Officer Sentenced in Murder-for-Hire Case : Courts: William Leasure gets two prison terms of 15 years to life. The Northridge man earlier pleaded no contest to arranging two deaths.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A former Los Angeles police officer from Northridge, once dubbed “the most corrupt cop in L.A.,” was sentenced Thursday to twin prison terms of 15 years to life, closing a lengthy criminal case that reached its climax last month when he pleaded no contest to two felony charges of murder-for-hire.

The sentence was not a surprise for former traffic officer William Leasure, 44, who has been held in Los Angeles County Jail since his arrest in 1986.

He had already agreed to the prison terms as part of a plea-bargain offer made by prosecutors.

“It was what everybody expected,” said his defense lawyer, Richard Lasting.

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Leasure was accused of accepting thousands of dollars from two people in exchange for arranging the deaths of their spouses.

When he became a suspect in the slayings, he was already accused of involvement in a multimillion-dollar yacht-theft ring, trafficking in stolen cars and defrauding insurance companies.

Although the prison terms, to run concurrently, mean Leasure could remain behind bars for life, he will be eligible for parole after serving a minimum of 10 years.

A spokeswoman for the state Board of Prison Terms said the time Leasure has spent in County Jail will count toward that minimum.

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Although Leasure has never admitted guilt, his lawyer said he did deliver a letter of apology to Superior Court Judge Stanley M. Weisberg on Thursday.

“He expressed remorse for the situation that brought him to where he was today,” Lasting said. “He expressed remorse that his actions had been a source of embarrassment to the Police Department and potentially made it harder for other police officers.”

The former officer agreed to the plea bargain shortly before the start of his second trial.

The first trial ended in June with a jury deadlocked 10 to 2 in favor of conviction.

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As part of the plea-bargain arrangement, Weisberg dismissed charges stemming from the yacht and car thefts.


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