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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 17, 2009
Former Bell, California, Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Federal Civil Rights Crime

WASHINGTON – Feliciano Sanchez, 34, a former officer with the Bell, Calif., Police Department, pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Los Angeles to a federal civil rights charge for sexually assaulting a female motorist, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Loretta King and U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Thomas P. O’Brien.

Sanchez admitted that on May 16, 2007, he sexually assaulted the victim by forcing her to provide oral sex after stopping her for a traffic violation, according to documents filed in court. Sanchez admitted that he took the victim in his patrol car to a location where he placed his hand on his duty weapon and forced her to orally copulate.

Sanchez faces a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. A sentencing hearing has been set for November 18, 2009.

"Law enforcement officers have a duty to protect the safety of all citizens, and citizens have the right to expect officers to help keep them from harm’s way," said Assistant Attorney General King. "Officers who abuse their powers in cases such as this not only violate the law, they violate the public trust. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute those who abuse their power."

"Officer Sanchez brutalized a person he had sworn to serve," said U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien. "As a result of his criminal conduct, Mr. Sanchez now faces a substantial amount of time in federal prison. His conduct eroded public confidence in law enforcement and cast a pall over his former colleagues who obey the law, proudly working to preserve public safety."

The case was investigated by agents from the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tammy C. Spertus of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Karen Ruckert and former Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Christine Dunn.

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