Veteran Officer Pleads Not Guilty : Police: One of the charges involves possession of child pornography. His lawyer says the materials were related to his client’s Juvenile Division job.
A veteran Juvenile Division officer with the Los Angeles Police Department pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of possessing child pornography and receiving stolen property.
Officer Walter Ray Bentley Jr., 46, said nothing at the brief court appearance before Superior Court Judge James Bascue. His lawyer, Darryl Mounger of Van Nuys, entered not guilty pleas to one felony count and one misdemeanor count, and said nothing else.
Authorities charged Bentley with one felony count of receiving stolen property because they allege that at least some of the pornographic magazines, photographs and movies came from locked police case files. If convicted on all charges, the 22-year Police Department veteran faces a maximum three years in prison.
Bentley has been suspended without pay pending an internal Police Department investigation, and has been free on his own recognizance while awaiting trial. On Tuesday, a pretrial court hearing date of Oct. 4 was set.
In an interview, Mounger said he will ask at that hearing that the case be thrown out on procedural grounds. He said Bentley’s house and police lockers were searched by authorities investigating allegations that he was selling confidential police information to several private investigative firms in the San Fernando Valley.
“The pornography was not what they were looking for,” Mounger said.
In addition, Mounger said, Bentley had good reason to have the materials in his possession. “The pornography is related to his job,” he said. “He does instruct in child abuse, not only in the Los Angeles Police Department but with other agencies.”
Deputy Dist. Atty. Alan Yochelson said he would have no comment on Mounger’s legal strategy until the pretrial hearing.
Police have acknowledged that they stumbled onto the pornography unexpectedly while executing search warrants in June, but said they were within their rights to seize it because it was evidence of a potential crime.
The Times reported Aug. 21 that the Police Department is investigating allegations that Bentley illegally accessed confidential records of nearly 500 people and sold them to private investigation companies, including one run by a retired deputy Police Department chief. No charges have been filed involving that aspect of the case, authorities said Tuesday.