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Monday, June 23, 2008
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Former Los Angeles Police Officer, Former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy, and Two Co-conspirators Sentenced for Civil Rights Violations

WASHINGTON Former Los Angeles Police Department Officer Jesse Moya, former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy and California Corrections Officer Rodrigo Duran, and two co-conspirators, Steve Quintero and Geronimo Sevilla, were sentenced today in federal court in Los Angeles for their roles in a series of home-invasion robberies over a two-year period, the Justice Department announced today. Moya was sentenced to 30 months in prison, three years of post-incarceration supervised release, and ordered to pay a fine of $5,000. Duran was sentenced to 66 months in prison, and five years of post-incarceration supervised release. Sevilla received a sentence of 87 months along with three years of supervised release and a $ 1,500 fine. Quintero received a sentence of 57 months along with three years of supervised release and a $ 5,000 fine.

Moya, Duran, Quintero and Sevilla all previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate civil rights. In addition, Duran and Sevilla pleaded guilty to using a firearm during a crime of violence, and Duran pleaded guilty to deprivation of rights under color of law. Duran also testified in the January 2008 trial in which a federal jury found their fellow co-conspirators, William and Joseph Ferguson, guilty of conspiring to violate civil rights, conspiring to possess narcotics with intent to distribute, and possession of narcotics with intent to distribute.

Evidence presented at the plea hearings and the January 2008 trial revealed that the four defendants sentenced today were members of a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy that committed more than 40 burglaries and robberies throughout the Los Angeles area between early 1999 and June of 2001. Former Los Angeles Police Department Officer Ruben Palomares was the ringleader of this conspiracy, which included other law enforcement officers as well as drug dealers. The robberies generally were committed after the group received information that a particular location was involved in illegal drug-trafficking. The robbery teams usually consisted of multiple sworn police officers in uniform or displaying badges, including Moya and Duran, who would gain access to the residence by falsely telling any occupants that they were conducting a legitimate search for drugs or drug dealers. The other defendants also assisted in these raids, by conducting surveillance for the raids or by selling drugs taken during the raids and sharing the profits with the other conspirators. Victims were often restrained, threatened or assaulted during the searches.

In all, 17 defendants, including law enforcement officers from the Los Angeles Police Department, the Long Beach Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the California Department of Corrections, have been convicted of federal crimes in connection with the conspiracy. In prior sentencing hearings in this case, former Los Angeles Police Department Officer William Ferguson was sentenced to 102 years imprisonment, his brother and former Long Beach Police Department Officer Joseph Ferguson was sentenced to 97 months imprisonment, and former Los Angeles Police Department Officer Ruben Palomares was sentenced to 158 months imprisonment.

"These defendants and their fellow conspirators repeatedly abused their positions of trust to help them in their robbery and drug trafficking schemes," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "While the vast majority of law enforcement officers carry out their difficult duties in a professional manner, the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute those who cross the line and commit such violent criminal acts."

"With former officers Moya and Duran now going to prison, five former law enforcement officials have been convicted and punished in this ugly case of police corruption," said U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien. "With this dark chapter in Southern California law enforcement now behind us, we will remain vigilant to ensure that other rogue officers do not smear the reputations of the vast majority of our police who serve their communities with honor and integrity."

This case was investigated by Special Agent Phil Carson of the FBI, with the assistance of Steve Sambar, Roger Mora, and Mark Bigel of the Los Angeles and Long Beach Police Departments. This case was prosecuted by Department of Justice Special Litigation Counsel Jeffrey S. Blumberg, Department of Justice Trial Attorney Josh Mahan, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas M. Miller.

The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as the laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement officials. The Division has compiled a significant record on criminal civil rights law enforcement prosecutions. In fiscal year 2007, the Criminal Section convicted the highest number of defendants in its history, surpassing the record previously set in fiscal year 2006. During the last seven years, the Criminal Section obtained convictions of 53 percent more defendants (391 v. 256) in law enforcement prosecutions than the previous seven years.