LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Two former L.A. County sheriff’s deputies accused of planting guns in a medical marijuana dispensary have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and other charges, according to court records.
Prosecutors claim Julio Cesar Martinez, 39, and Anthony Manuel Paez, 32, placed the weapons at the scene so they could justify an arrest.
In a report filed on Aug. 24, 2011, Martinez claimed he followed a suspect into the dispensary and found a gun near a trash bin and another one on top of a desk next to a stash of ecstasy pills, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The deputies say they witnessed a drug transaction involving a man carrying a firearm, prosecutors said.
Martinez and Paez arrested one man on suspicion of possessing an unregistered firearm and another man for allegedly possessing a controlled substance while armed with a firearm, according to court records.
An internal investigation launched a year later by the Sheriff’s Department reportedly found that video surveillance from inside the dispensary contradicted the deputies’ accounts of the arrests.
Prosecutors said both men were former deputies, but it remains unclear when they left the department. Martinez was a 15-year department veteran and Paez was on the force for seven years.
Martinez and Paez were booked in April and released on $50,000 bail. They’ve been charged with one felony count each of conspiracy to obstruct justice and a peace officer altering evidence. Martinez has also been charged with two felony counts of perjury by declaration and one felony count of filing a false report.
The former deputies are due back in court July 28.
If convicted, prosecutors said Martinez and Paez each face more than seven years in prison.
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