WICHITA, KAN. –A former officer of the Wichita Police Department and a co-defendant have pleaded guilty in a scheme to pay a bribe in an unsuccessful effort to keep the officer from losing her job, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.
Former officer Joletta Vallejo, 35, Wichita, Kan., and Patrick Melendrez, 40, Wichita, Kan., each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Vallejo was employed by the police department from Jan. 9, 2006, to Aug. 24, 2012. In her plea, she admitted that on Oct. 16, 2011, two citizens approached her to make a 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 of her failure to follow department policies, Vallejo was investigated by the police department’s Professional Standards Bureau. When she was interviewed she lied to the 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 co-defendant Melendrez. They used that number to call and text one of the citizens and offer him money to recant the statements he had made to police about Vallejo’s conduct. The citizen’s response was part of an undercover investigation.
Sentencing is set for Nov. 18. They face a maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $250,000. Grissom commended the Wichita Police Department, the FBI and Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Barnett for their work on the case.