Officer Found Guilty of Persuading Witness to Lie

A former San Diego police officer and admitted drug smuggler was convicted Thursday of persuading a witness to lie under oath in an asset forfeiture case against him.

Robert P. Flint, convicted of suborning perjury and making false claims against the United States, could get as much as 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine when he is sentenced July 27.

The charges stem from the government's seizure of $1.1 million worth of Flint's property in July, 1990, under state and federal laws that allow police agencies to seize assets of people suspected of involvement in the drug trade.

Along with Flint's Fletcher Hills home and other property, agents seized The Sport Stop Baseball Card Shop, more than 400,000 baseball cards and other sports memorabilia.

According to court records, calls were made from the shop to narcotics smugglers in Colombia identified by the Drug Enforcement Administration, allowing police to seize the store. Assistant U.S. Atty. Phillip L. B. Halpern said Thursday that Flint has previously admitted past involvement in drug smuggling, though the statute of limitations prevented prosecution.

According to Halpern, some of the assets in the baseball card shop belonged to other people, who had consigned their property to Flint for sale. Knowing that they would be allowed to claim their property from the government, Flint approached at least three and attempted to persuade them to claim some of his assets as well. Flint offered to split the proceeds of assets recovered with the claimant, Halpern said.

One woman filed such a claim and testified under oath that Flint's property was hers, leading to the charge of suborning perjury, Halpern said. She later recanted her testimony and has not been charged with perjury, Halpern said.

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