Former Rampart Officer Perez Is Arrested

Times Staff Writer

The day the LAPD released a long-awaited report on the Rampart police scandal, the disgraced officer at the center of that corruption probe was arrested Wednesday for allegedly lying on a driver's license application.

Rafael Perez, 38, faces felony charges for allegedly applying under a fake name.

"He used the name Ray Lopez," said Mike Marando, DMV deputy director of communications.

Department of Motor Vehicles investigators arrested Perez as he met with his federal parole officer in Inglewood. If convicted, he faces a possible maximum state prison term of five years, said Sandi Gibbons, a district attorney's spokeswoman.

The onetime anti-gang officer became the face of police corruption in the late 1990s, and his legacy is still being felt this week with a new Rampart task force report warning that a similar scandal could occur in the Los Angeles Police Department.

The Rampart affair exploded in 1998 when Perez, accused of stealing cocaine from an LAPD evidence locker, told investigators that he and fellow officers routinely planted evidence, shot and beat suspects without provocation and framed people for crimes they did not commit.

In exchange for a five-year sentence, he promised to tell authorities about a case in 1996 in which he and his partner shot young Javier Francisco Ovando then planted a gun on him to justify the shooting. Perez also pledged to identify other corrupt police.

In the end, he and eight other officers from the Rampart Division's CRASH -- Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums -- anti-gang unit were convicted of corruption-related offenses as a result of his information. A judge overturned three of the convictions on procedural grounds.

During the scandal, some questioned Perez's credibility, speculating that he might be exaggerating the scope of the corruption to help get a plea deal. But prosecutors have said they found no evidence that Perez lied about police wrongdoing.

Perez is on federal probation in connection with the Ovando case, Gibbons said.

It was unclear why Perez would want a driver's license with an alias. He could not be reached for comment.

As of Wednesday evening he was being held at the Sheriff's Inmate Reception Center in downtown Los Angeles in lieu of $60,000 bail.

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