A former Santa Ana police officer admitted Monday that he accepted $2,500 from a liquor store owner after promising to help solve the man's problems with state liquor authorities.
Sang H. Masog, 34, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall in Los Angeles to one count of extortion. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, federal prosecutors said.
Masog, who resigned from the police force on July 7, became the target of an undercover investigation after authorities received complaints from businesses in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles, Assistant U.S. Atty. Mark A. Byrne said.
Participating in the investigation were the FBI's Asian Organized Crime Squad Unit, the Los Angeles Police Department's Koreatown Criminal Investigation Unit and the Santa Ana Police Department's Internal Affairs Division.
"We had suspicions that he was doing this kind of thing," Byrne said. "After an investigation, he was confronted, and he ended up resigning."
Byrne said that on July 6, Masog extorted money from a Santa Ana liquor store owner who ran into trouble with Alcohol and Beverage Control authorities for selling liquor to minors. Byrne would not say whether Masog will face additional charges.
In a prepared statement, U.S. Atty. Terree A. Bowers commended Santa Ana Police Chief Paul M. Walters "for supporting and assisting this prosecution."
"Fortunately, we have relatively few police misconduct cases in Orange County," Bowers said. "When we do encounter cases where the rare 'bad apple' takes advantage of his or her authority, as in this extortion case, we will move quickly to bring criminal charges against such individuals."
Masog, who was a Santa Ana police officer for more than two years, will be sentenced on May 10.