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Deputy Accused of Drug-Deal Plan : Crime: The officer pleads not guilty to buying cocaine in police sting. Prosecutor says he would have sold it.

March 05, 1994|THOM MROZEK | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy charged with purchasing more than two pounds of cocaine during a sting operation planned to take the contraband to Tennessee and become a drug dealer, a prosecutor said Friday.

The disclosure was made in the downtown Los Angeles Municipal Court, where William Barr pleaded not guilty to felony drug charges stemming from Wednesday's undercover operation.

Meanwhile, Barr, 25, of Bellflower, formally resigned Friday from the Sheriff's Department, where he had been a deputy for 4 1/2 years, recently serving as a guard at the Pitchess jail near Castaic, a department spokeswoman said.

"He is no longer a deputy," Deputy Irma Becerra said.

During a short arraignment, Judge Barry Taylor set Barr's bail at $50,000 and scheduled a preliminary hearing for March 17. Family members present at the hearing said they were planning to offer a house as bail security to obtain Barr's release.

Barr is being represented by a public defender, but no attorney has been specifically assigned to the case.

Undercover sheriff's deputies said they sold Barr a kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, of cocaine Wednesday afternoon in the Terminal Annex post office parking lot in downtown Los Angeles. Barr was arrested without incident immediately after the transaction, according to sheriff's officials, who added that two semiautomatic pistols were seized from Barr's vehicle.

Authorities said the sting came after a monthlong investigation that started when a confidential informant said Barr had inquired about purchasing a substantial quantity of drugs. Sheriff's Department officials would not comment Friday on the identity of the informant.

At the time of his arrest, Barr was assigned to the North County Correctional Facility, a maximum-security jail at the Peter J. Pitchess Honor Rancho, a sprawling facility where more than 10,000 inmates are housed.

In a criminal complaint filed Friday, Barr was charged with one count of possession of cocaine for sale and one count of selling cocaine.

If convicted, Barr would face a maximum of five years in state prison, according to Deputy Dist. Atty. Alan Yochelson. The quantity involved in the alleged transaction was exactly one kilogram, Yochelson said, explaining that if the amount were any larger, the sentence could have been three years longer.

Citing policy, Yochelson would not comment on whether Barr was being investigated in relation to other drug deals.

Yochelson said in court that investigators determined that once Barr purchased the cocaine, he was planning to leave the Sheriff's Department and move to Tennessee to sell it.

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