An alleged drug dealer’s five-year prison sentence was overturned last week and charges dismissed after Los Angeles County prosecutors conceded that police included false information in an arrest report to protect the identity of a confidential informant. The Los Angeles Daily News reports the District Attorney’s office told a judge that while the evidence overwelmingly supported Michael Edward Baker’s drug conviction, the conviction should be overturned because in an attempt to protect a confidential informant, there “were certain statements made in a police report that weren’t accurate.”
The inaccuracies were discovered after Baker’s defense attorney found a sworn declaration by a federal agent that contradicted the version of Baker’s arrest given by Torrance law enforcement. Torrance officers contend that they fell upon Baker last year when they were patrolling near a 7-Eleven store and noticed that he matched the description of a suspect in a robbery at the store earlier in the day. They say they stopped him, found PCP in his car and arrested him on drug charges.
But according to the federal agent, the Torrance police set Baker up. The agent — who was part of a task force investigating Baker — said that Torrance police used one of their informants to call Baker and arrange a drug deal near the 7-Eleven. When it became clear that the CI’s identity was in danger of being uncovered, Torrance police concocted a story to protect the informant.
It is entirely legal for police to use an informant to set up a drug deal with a targeted criminal, however officers lying to protect the informant’s identity is illegal. The Los Angeles D.A.’s office is considering whether they will file criminal charges against the lying cops.
Comments about this post can be directed to Irvine Criminal Defense Attorney William Weinberg at 949.474.8008.