A federal judge on Thursday dismissed some of the civil rights and theft counts against three Los Angeles County narcotics officers but left intact the bulk of the prosecution's corruption case against the officers and three other defendants.
U.S. District Judge Robert M. Takasugi threw out three counts against two sheriff's deputies and a Los Angeles police officer after prosecutors said they lacked sufficient evidence to present those charges to the jury.
The judge also dismissed two other counts after concluding that government attorneys had failed to present an adequate case on those charges as well. The counts included allegations that the officers had beaten a handcuffed drug dealer during a narcotics raid.
But Takasugi declined a defense request to dismiss the core of the prosecution's 34-count indictment, which asserts that five sheriff's deputies and an LAPD officer had conspired to violate the civil rights of drug suspects.
The officers, who worked together on an anti-narcotics team in the mid- to late 1980s, are charged with skimming drug cash, beating and framing suspects, and lying in court and on police reports to cover up their activities.
After prosecutors rested their case in the 2 1/2-month-old trial, the judge dismissed five specific counts in the indictment, reducing charges against several defendants.
Sheriff's Sgt. Robert S. Tolmaire was a defendant in four of the counts that were dismissed; he is still facing 14 counts.
"That's four less counts to worry about," said attorney Roger Cossack, who represents Tolmaire.
Deputy Edward D. Jamison had three of the six counts against him dismissed, but his attorney appeared less enthusiastic with the outcome. "If you don't win them all, it's not particularly significant," Bradley Brunon said outside the courtroom.
Four counts also were dismissed against LAPD Detective Stephen W. Polak, who still faces seven counts, including one felony. His attorney, David Wiechert, said, "Although we still have a long way to go, we're very pleased that two-thirds of the felony counts against Steve Polak have been dismissed. . . ."
Assistant U.S. Atty. Michael Emmick had no comment.
Three of the five dismissed counts against Jamison, Tolmaire and Polak involve Robert Robinson, a government witness who said he was beaten by officers. Robinson's testimony, however, had been disallowed earlier by Takasugi after prosecutors failed to give defense lawyers information to which they had been entitled.
Because of the stricken testimony, Emmick forfeited the counts, which involved a theft allegation and two alleged civil rights violations.
One of the other two dismissed counts involved a friend of Robinson--a drug dealer named Ollie Newell--who also was allegedly beaten by officers.
The final dismissed count charged Polak with stealing money from a drug dealer named Dion Floyd. To support that charge, former Sheriff's Sgt. Robert R. Sobel, who once commanded the anti-drug team, testified that Polak had given him $3,000 to $4,000 of the stolen cash.
But attorney Wiechert told the judge there was no corroborating evidence to support Sobel's testimony. He also said the amount allegedly skimmed by his client was less than the minimum of $5,000 needed to invoke the particular theft law cited in the indictment.
Takasugi, who made his rulings with little comment, declined to dismiss any counts against Deputies Roger R. Garcia and J. C. Miller.
He delayed ruling on Deputy John L. Edner's request to drop charges because Edner's lawyer was ill and absent from court.