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Officer Pleads Not Guilty to 9 Robberies : Crime: The recently retired detective once ran the LAPD’s Organized Crime Intelligence Division.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A once-celebrated Los Angeles police detective accused of going on an armed-robbery spree that began weeks before his retirement pleaded not guilty Thursday in Los Angeles Municipal Court.

Municipal Judge Craig E. Veals ordered bail lowered from $500,000 to $200,000 for Michael D. Brambles, 45, but the former organized-crime investigator remained in custody because his attorneys said he could not immediately raise the money.

“We’re not talking anybody rich. We’re talking an LAPD person (who) lives on his retirement,” said Audrey Winograde, who is serving as co-counsel for Brambles with noted Santa Monica defense attorney Charles R. English.

Brambles, who once was a supervising detective for the LAPD’s Organized Crime Intelligence Division, is accused of nine robberies around Los Angeles, most at restaurants. A lone gunman was reported in each case, usually arriving near closing time and escaping with small amounts of cash.

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Deputy Dist. Atty. Ken Lamb said that two of the robberies occurred before Brambles’ retirement became official March 26, but that he was not on duty, apparently having taken sick leave.

Lamb said that Brambles’ revolver, recovered when he was first picked up for questioning May 5, was “similar in nature to the gun used in the robberies.”

Brambles was arrested July 5 in Las Vegas, where he moved after retirement. He was brought back to Los Angeles, where he is being held in a protective-custody area of the County Jail, a precaution commonly taken with law enforcement officials behind bars.

“He’s going through hell,” defense attorney Winograde said outside court. “He told me, ‘I put many people in County Jail in my day. I never realized what a hellhole it is.’ ”

Winograde said that Brambles’ response to the charges was “it is not him. . . . He didn’t do it.”

She called it “one of the strangest cases we’ve seen” because of the allegation that a veteran officer turned to “penny-ante little robberies with no disguises.”

During 23 years with the LAPD, Brambles was given many high-profile assignments, including heading the investigation into the collapse of the ZZZZ Best carpet cleaning company and serving as the LAPD’s main contact with longtime Beverly Hills madam Elizabeth Adams, who passed him the pillow-talk intelligence gleaned by call girls in her employ.

In his last years on the force, however, Brambles was the subject of a series of internal disciplinary cases, including ones accusing him of lying under oath and leaving an obscene photograph on the desk of a female colleague.

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A preliminary hearing in the case was set for Sept. 8. Brambles’ attorneys agreed that he would stand in a lineup before then to see if the robbery victims can pick him out.

Investigators also are seeking to determine whether more robberies can be linked to Brambles. “There is an ongoing investigation,” prosecutor Lamb said.


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