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Metropolitan Digest / LOS ANGELES COUNTY NEWS IN BRIEF

SAN FERNANDO VALLEY : Facing Misconduct Hearing, LAPD Officer Resigns

March 25, 1994

A veteran Los Angeles police officer resigned on the same day he was to have faced internal departmental hearings that would have put him on trial publicly on more than a dozen misconduct charges, authorities confirmed this week.

Officer Walter Ray Bentley Jr. of Granada Hills, a 23-year veteran, worked most recently in the department's Juvenile Division before his suspension in August. He faced two separate department administrative hearings on 13 charges, including stealing pornography from locked evidence lockers and selling information he illegally retrieved from department computers to private detectives.

Because the most severe penalty the hearing officers could have imposed was dismissal from the force, those hearings have been canceled, said Capt. Eric Lillo, commanding officer of the Police Department's Internal Affairs Division.

Some fellow officers, who asked not to be identified, said that by retiring Monday, the day the hearings were to begin, Bentley avoided having to testify against himself in the board of rights hearings--which are open to the public and reporters--and prevented other witnesses from testifying against him.

Bentley, 47, remains under criminal investigation for allegedly using his power as a police officer to illegally gain access to confidential information in department computers. Police and prosecutors said Wednesday that the investigation will continue, as will an existing criminal case filed against Bentley last summer after Bentley was arrested and charged with possessing child pornography and receiving stolen property. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Through his lawyer, Bentley refused to comment Wednesday on his retirement or the allegations lodged against him by the department.

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