LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy pleaded guilty to a federal felony offense for depriving a 23-year-old man of his civil rights in Compton three years ago.
Miguel Vega, 33, of Corona, appeared in federal court Wednesday afternoon, agreeing to a plea deal that will most likely land him in prison for several years.
Vega is the second former sheriff's deputy to plead guilty in the case. He entered his plea to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law, a crime that carries a sentence of up to 10 years behind bars.
U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson set sentencing for Dec. 11 in downtown Los Angeles.
Vega's former partner, Christopher Hernandez, 37, pleaded guilty in July to one count of conspiracy -- part of a plea deal in which he agreed to cooperate in the investigation. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 8, at which time he will face up to five years in federal prison.
Vega admitted in his plea agreement, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles federal court, that he falsely imprisoned Jesus Alegria, identified as J.A. in court records, in his patrol car, which crashed during a subsequent chase, leaving the man injured. He also admitted filing false reports to cover up his and his partner's unlawful conduct.
"When law enforcement officers violate civil rights, we all lose," U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada told reporters. "It's really important that we prosecute these cases aggressively and bring these people to justice."
Investigators say Vega and Hernandez visited a Compton skateboard park in April 2020. After exchanging words with skateboarder Jesus Alegria, Vega shoved him in the back of the patrol SUV, falsely accused him of being under the influence of drugs and threatened to drop him off in gang territory.
With Alegria still in the SUV, deputies began chasing other teens and Vega ended up crashing. Alegria, who was not placed in a seatbelt, was injured in the crash.
Investigators say both deputies filed false reports to cover up their crimes.
L.A. County settled a lawsuit filed by Alegria for $450,000.
"I think the facts of this case are very egregious - an abuse of power at its maximum level," said Humberto Guizar, an attorney for Alegria.
Both deputies were involved in the shooting death of Andres Guardado, an 18-year-old who was shot in the back five times after the deputies chased him in Gardena.
The shooting led to widespread protests in 2020 and a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Guardado's family against the county. It was settled last year for $8 million.
No criminal charges were filed in that case.
City News Service contributed to this report.