A judge Tuesday reversed the convictions of nine more people allegedly framed by officers in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Rampart Division.
Seven adults and two juveniles had their cases thrown out by Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler, bringing the number of convictions set aside as a consequence of the ongoing police corruption scandal to 32.
One man, George Kenneth Alfaro, was ordered immediately released from prison amid disclosures that an officer allegedly planted a plastic bag of drugs on him before his arrest in May 1998.
The tainted cases involved nine officers, four of whom had not been previously linked to the scandal but who are under active investigation. Three of the officers remain on duty. One has recently resigned, a police source said.
The court action marked the first time prosecutors have sought to overturn convictions not directly linked to ex-officer-turned-informant Rafael Perez, the man at the scandal’s center. While Perez has alleged to investigators that all of these latest cases involved either planted evidence or falsified police reports, he was not an arresting officer in two of the cases.
Fidler overturned the convictions of:
* Sonia Castro, who pleaded guilty to a drug charge and was sentenced to County Jail and probation. Perez now says that, contrary to what his partner wrote in the arrest report, neither officer saw Castro sell drugs.
* Transcito Hernandez Luna, who pleaded guilty to a drug charge in 1997 in exchange for dismissal of another case. Perez now says he and his partner never saw Luna drop a bindle of cocaine. In fact, he now says, the drugs belonged to someone else.
* Allan Manrique Lobos, who pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon. Perez now alleges that two other officers planted the weapon on Lobos. Despite the striking of the weapons case, Lobos remains in state prison for an unrelated murder.
* Julian Lopez Hernandez, who pleaded guilty to a drug charge and was sentenced to County Jail. Perez now says he and a partner conducted an illegal search, which resulted in the discovery of the drugs.
* Michael Williams, who pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon and was sentenced to state prison. Perez now says he and his partner falsified an arrest report, wrongly indicating that they saw Williams discard the gun in question. Though Williams admits that he did have a gun, prosecutors say the case was irreparably tainted by the officers’ conduct. Williams is serving 50 years to life for an unrelated murder conviction.
* Laura Villatora, who pleaded guilty to possession of drugs for sale and was sentenced to state prison. Perez now says he and a partner lied about having Villatora’s permission to search her residence, where they found 7 pounds of marijuana. Rather, he says, they forced their way into the dwelling. She is serving time on an unrelated conviction and is expected to be deported upon her release later this month.
* Two juveniles, whose names and case information were withheld by authorities.
Perez, who in September pleaded guilty to stealing 8 pounds of cocaine from LAPD evidence facilities, is hoping to receive a lighter sentence in exchange for cooperating with investigators. The ex-officer maintains that he is also motivated by a desire to clear his conscience.
Perez has admitted that he and his former partners framed 99 innocent people over three years while working as officers in the Rampart Division.
The former officer has said he routinely planted drugs and weapons on innocent people, then perjured himself in court in an effort to send his victims to prison.