A former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy must complete 300 hours of community service as part of his plea agreement with prosecutors for filing a false report in 2011 after an incident at a medical marijuana dispensary resulted in two men falsely arrested.
Julio Cesar Martinez, 44, pleaded no contest Thursday to one felony count of a false report filed by a peace officer. He and another former sheriff’s deputy, Anthony Manuel Paez, 37, were charged in April 2014.
On Aug. 24, 2011, Martinez falsely claimed that he saw a man engage in a hand-to-hand drug deal and then reach for a gun in his pocket, according to court records. Martinez claimed that he followed the man into the dispensary and saw him toss the gun near a trash can. He also falsely stated that he found a gun and ecstasy pills on a desk inside the dispensary office, according to court records.
Before getting a search warrant, Martinez kicked a wall outlet at the dispensary, shutting off electricity inside the room, and Paez planted two guns on top of the desk next to the ecstasy pills in the office, court records show. Paez also crawled under the desk and disabled the video surveillance system, according to the records.
The deputies then falsely arrested two men, one for possessing an unregistered firearm and another for possessing ecstasy pills in the presence of a firearm, the records state.
A year after the incident, the Sheriff Department’s Internal Criminal Investigation Bureau found that video recorded inside the dispensary showed Martinez’s statements were inconsistent with what he said happened.
After Martinez’s plea, Paez’s case was dismissed “in the interest of justice,” prosecutors said.
Prosecutors previously said that the charges against one of the falsely arrested men were dropped. The other man was sentenced to a year in jail before the bad evidence was discovered, but it is unclear how much time he served.
Martinez was with the department for 15 years, and Paez for seven.