GLENDALE — An attorney has filed a lawsuit against two Glendale police officers, one of whom he claims was having an affair with his wife, and he says the pair conspired to have him arrested.
The attorney, Robert Yousefian, claims his wife admitted that she was having an affair with Glendale Police Officer Michael Lizarraga, who arrested Yousefian on drug and assault charges in August 2007, according to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Despite "overwhelming evidence" that Yousefian had not committed a crime, Glendale police maliciously investigated him, which led to an improper prosecution that violated his civil rights, the lawsuit claims.
Yousefian — who was eventually acquitted of all charges filed after a 35-month investigation — filed the lawsuit against his wife, Lizarraga, the city of Glendale and police Det. Petros Kmbikyan, claiming that he was unlawfully incarcerated, maliciously prosecuted, and that his civil rights were violated.
Yousefian's attorney, Mark Geragos, said he had been monitoring the case and never thought it would go to trial because of the alleged affair between Lizarraga, who was the lead police investigator, and his client's wife.
"It's just unbelievable," Geragos said.
"If I were a Glendale resident, I would be marching on Glendale City Hall."
Geragos is also representing a man who won a $1.31-million civil rights judgment against the city for being wrongfully detained for eight months during a murder investigation. The city is evaluating whether to appeal a ruling by a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel upholding the jury's decision.
Calls to the city attorney's office were not returned Thursday, and police officials declined to comment.
At the time of his arrest, Yousefian and his wife were having marital problems, the lawsuit claims.
On Aug. 19, 2007, Yousefian called his in-laws to inquire about the whereabouts of his wife and children after they hadn't been home for an unspecified amount of time, according to the lawsuit, fearing that they may have left him.
When his in-laws came over, they got into an argument and his wife's father allegedly hit him over the head with a cane, according to the lawsuit. Both men were injured in the scuffle, Yousefian claims.
Lizarraga responded to the scene and arrested Yousefian, but did not detain his father-in-law, the lawsuit claims.
He and another officer searched Yousefian's car and confiscated a laptop, digital camera and documents that Yousefian argued were later returned to his wife, according to the lawsuit.
"Had this evidence been preserved by the Glendale Police Department, and the chain of custody been maintained, the evidence would have been exculpatory in rebutting charges eventually brought against the plaintiff," Yousefian argues in his lawsuit.
Later that same day, Yousefian's wife called Lizarraga after she allegedly found illegal drugs and paraphernalia in his car, which were not present when the original evidence was seized, according to the lawsuit.
The next day on Aug. 20, 2007, the pair allegedly exchanged 87 text messages.
Yousefian later obtained cell-phone records that showed his wife and Lizarraga had been communicating since his arrest and throughout the criminal prosecution, Geragos said.
The lawsuit asserts that Yousefian never tested positive for drugs, and his fingerprints were not found on the evidence, and points out that a jury eventually acquitted the attorney of all charges.