Wichita Man Sentenced For HelpingPolice Officer In Scheme To Pay Bribe
WICHITA, KAN. – A Wichita man has been sentenced to two years on federal probation for helping a former officer of the Wichita Police Department in a scheme to bribe a witness in hopes of keeping the officer from losing her job, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today. He already spent five months in jail.
Patrick Melendrez, 40, Wichita, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In his plea, he admitted that co-defendant Joletta Vallejo developed a plan and asked him to assist her in bribing a witness to recant statements the witness made about Vallejo to the police department’s Professional Standards Bureau.
Vallejo was employed by the Wichita Police Department from Jan. 9, 2006, to Aug 24, 2012. On Oct. 16, 2011, two citizens approached her to report they were victims of an aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnaping, aggravated battery and attempted first degree murder. Vallejo did not follow the police department’s policies in responding and filing their complaints. As a result, Vallejo was investigated by the police department’s Professional Standards Bureau. When she was interviewed she lied to investigators. When she became aware she was going to be fired, she and Melendrez devised a scheme to attempt to keep her job.
On Aug. 22, 2012, Vallejo created a Google Voice number in the name of Melendrez. On Aug. 22 and 23, that number was used to call and text a witness to persuade him to recant his statements to the Professional Standards Bureau. In return, Vallejo and Melendrez offered the witness money. What Vallejo and Melendrez did not know is the witness was cooperating with an undercover investigation into the bribery attempt.
Co-defendant Vallejo is set for sentencing Dec. 2.
Grissom commended the Wichita Police Department, the FBI and Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Barnett for their work on the case.