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Ex-Girlfriend of Perez Is Sentenced to Prison for Lies

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The former girlfriend of convicted Rampart police officer Rafael Perez was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison Monday for fabricating a tale that Perez and another officer murdered three people.

Because of Sonya Flores’ allegations, the FBI spent nearly three months and about $350,000 looking in vain for bodies she claimed were buried in a Tijuana ravine.

The 24-year-old Huntington Park woman might have gotten a lesser sentence were it not for the fact that even after entering a guilty plea last December, she continued to lie to the FBI.

U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz disclosed Monday that Flores had falsely accused yet another police officer of criminal misconduct.

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“The implications of what you did could have been absolutely calamitous,” Matz told her. “Even a contemptible thug like Perez has rights.”

Flores’ lawyer, Marshall Bitkower, acknowledged that his client had lied again. He called her a “stupid little brat” who got carried away with lying and enjoyed the celebrity it brought her.

Choked with tears, Flores agreed. “My attorney is correct. Everything he said about me being stupid and a brat is true. I apologize for everything I did.”

Flores told authorities last year that she had witnessed Perez and his friend, former LAPD Officer David Mack, murder a drug dealer and his mother in 1994 after a squabble over a cocaine deal. She said Perez arranged for the bodies to be buried in Tijuana.

Some time later, she said, she accompanied Perez on a trip to Tijuana to dispose of the body of another woman at the same site.

After months of fruitless searching for human remains, FBI officials administered a polygraph test to Flores. She broke down and confessed that she had concocted the story to get even with Perez for having jilted her.

Her allegations surfaced at a time when the district attorney’s office was considering calling Perez as its star witness in the corruption trial of four former Rampart officers. Perez ignited the Rampart investigation after he was caught stealing cocaine from an LAPD evidence locker. He accused fellow anti-gang officers of shooting, beating and planting evidence on innocent people.

After Flores’ charges, the district attorney’s office decided not to call Perez to testify.

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Although her false statements to the FBI were punishable by up to five years in prison, federal prosecutors agreed to recommend that Flores be sentenced to 10 months in custody, with five months to be served in prison and five months in a halfway house.

The agreement was conditioned on Flores’ cooperation with the FBI, which was eager to know if anyone had put her up to making the murder allegations against Perez and Mack, now serving a prison term for bank robbery.

During questioning by the FBI, Flores implicated another LAPD officer in the plot to frame Perez and Mack. But she then flunked two polygraph tests, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

As a result, Assistant U.S. Atty. Mary Carter Andrues canceled the deal with Flores and recommended Monday that she be sentenced to 13 months behind bars.

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Matz, however, tacked on another month to Flores’ sentence, calling her actions a “crime against justice.”

He declined Andrues’ request that Flores be required to make full restitution to the government for the wasted investigative costs, saying there was no likelihood she would ever have the resources to do so.

Matz said he would change his mind in the event Flores ever gets “a book deal or, God forbid, a movie contract.”

He ordered her to surrender on March 26.

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