Ex-Santa Ana Police Officer in Bribery Case Sentenced to Prison

Ex-Santa Ana Police Officer in Bribery Case Sentenced to Prison

A police officer in Santa Ana, Calif., on April 24, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

City News Service

City News Service

4/23/2024

Updated: 4/23/2024

LOS ANGELES—A former Santa Ana police officer was sentenced April 22 to a year and a day in federal prison for accepting $128,000 in bribes from a crime figure who sought to thwart law enforcement activities against his illegal businesses.
Steven Lopez, 31, of Chino, was also ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and serve one year in supervised release following prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Mr. Lopez pleaded guilty three years ago in downtown Los Angeles to a single felony count of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.
Between August 2019 and November 2020, Mr. Lopez received about $128,000 in bribes from the unnamed crime figure in return for a promise to keep law enforcement officers from inspecting, searching or shutting down the man’s illegal gambling operations.
In at least two instances cited in court papers, Mr. Lopez was on duty and in uniform when he accepted bribe payments from the man, including late in the evening of Sept. 14, 2019, when they met on the top floor of a parking structure located directly across the street from Santa Ana Police Department headquarters, according to papers filed in Los Angeles federal court.
The Santa Ana Police Department said at the time Mr. Lopez pleaded guilty in 2021 that it cooperated with the FBI investigation and provided any assistance necessary “to ensure that justice is served.” The department said an Internal Affairs investigation was opened into Mr. Lopez’s actions.
Mr. Lopez joined the force in April 2016 and was placed on administrative leave when he was charged in December 2020. It was unclear when Mr. Lopez left the force.
“The residents of Santa Ana put their trust in our officers to uphold the law and the actions of this one isolated officer have violated that trust,” then-Chief David Valentin said when charges were announced. “Let me be absolutely clear, these charges should in no way be a reflection of the women and men who serve the community of Santa Ana with honor and integrity each and every day. I have zero tolerance for an officer who betrays their oath to protect and serve.”
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