LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two former LA County sheriff’s deputies were charged with planting guns at a medical marijuana dispensary, resulting in the arrest of a man who was sentenced to six months in jail, authorities announced Wednesday.
Julio Cesar Martinez, 39, and Anthony Manuel Paez, 32, were charged last week with conspiracy and alteration of evidence by a peace officer while on duty in 2011. Martinez also is charged with perjury and filing a false report.
Each could face more than seven years in state prison if convicted.
They were free on bail Wednesday, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether they had obtained attorneys.
Martinez and Paez said they were on patrol on Aug. 24, 2011, when they saw a drug deal being made and followed a man into a medical marijuana dispensary, prosecutors said.
Martinez said he saw the man throw away a gun in an office.
The deputies said they found a gun near a trash bin and another on a desk next to some Ecstasy pills.
But prosecutors contend that the deputies actually planted the weapons; that Martinez shut off electricity to the room; and that Paez crawled under the desk to disable the dispensary’s video surveillance system.
The deputies arrested Antonio Rhodes for possession of an unregistered firearm and Johnny Yang for possession of a controlled substance while armed with a firearm.
“However, when LASD’s Internal Criminal Investigation Bureau launched an investigation a year later, they discovered a video recording taken inside the dispensary. Investigators said the video was inconsistent with statements made by the deputies in their reports,” according to a statement from the district attorney’s office.
Martinez, a 15-year veteran, and seven-year veteran Paez were dismissed from the Sheriff’s Department last year.
Rhodes had his case dismissed in 2012. But Yang pleaded no contest to the charge before the alleged evidence-planting was discovered and was sentenced to 180 days in jail, county district attorney’s spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
Robison did not know how much time Yang actually spent in jail, but she said prosecutors will try to contact his attorney.
She did not immediately know the name of his lawyer.
Robison initially reported that the cases against both men had been dismissed.
A call to a representative of the Association for LA Deputy Sheriffs, the union representing deputies, was not immediately returned.
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