LA sheriff's deputies allegedly planted guns in pot clinic

ByHanna Chu KABC logo
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department badge is seen in this undated file photo.
A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department badge is seen in this undated file photo.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Two former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies are accused of planting guns inside a medical marijuana clinic in order to justify an arrest.

Julio Cesar Martinez, 39, and Anthony Manuel Paez, 32, were charged on Wednesday with one felony count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and peace officer altering evidence, the L.A. County District Attorney's Office announced. Martinez was also charged with two counts of perjury and one count of filing a false report.

Prosecutors say the deputies wrote a report saying they "witnessed a narcotics transaction and observed one suspect with a firearm" while they were on patrol in the area of West 84th Place on Aug. 24, 2011.

Martinez apparently followed one suspect inside a pot clinic, where he allegedly found a firearm near a trash bin and another next to ecstasy pills. One man was taken into custody for possession of an unregistered firearm, while another man was arrested for possession of a controlled substance while armed with a firearm.

An investigation into the incident about a year later found that the deputies' report was inconsistent with a video recording from the pot clinic. According to a criminal complaint, Martinez kicked at a wall outlet to shut off electricity inside the room during the incident, while Paez "opened a drawer and retrieved a handgun and placed it on a chair."

The complaint also states that Paez disabled the dispensary's video surveillance camera system and planted two handguns next to the ecstasy.

The former deputies were arrested and released on $50,000 bail each last Friday. Officials say they were "separated" from the L.A. County Sheriff's Department on March 5, 2013.

Charges had been filed against the two men falsely arrested. The case against one of the men was later dismissed, however the other suspect had pled before the corruption was discovered. The district attorney's office said it was in the process of notifying the man's defense attorney.

Martinez and Paez are scheduled to be arraigned June 17 at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. If convicted, they face more than seven years each in state prison.