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Santa Ana Officer and Wife Accused of Welfare Fraud

April 18, 1998|GREG HERNANDEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Santa Ana police officer--fired when he was charged in a sexual assault case, but later reinstated--has been suspended amid new allegations of misconduct, officials said Friday.

Officer Michael Cabrera, 40, is being investigated for an unspecified on-duty incident and has also been charged with one count of welfare fraud and several charges of perjury, officials said.

"We looked at it and determined there may have been a crime," Chief Paul Walters said of the on-duty allegation. "We immediately turned it over to the district attorney's office. Once they finish their criminal investigation they will give us their report, and we will do our administrative investigation."

Cabrera has been suspended with pay during the investigations.

The district attorney's office said the welfare fraud and perjury charges are against Cabrera and his wife, Dale Lynn Cabrera.

The couple allegedly failed to report income while receiving welfare payments, according to the district attorney's office. In addition, the couple allegedly failed to report Cabrera's pension fund proceeds from the Santa Ana Police Department.

Prosecutors allege the Cabreras were overpaid more than $8,000 in welfare funds, said Connie Johnson, supervising attorney for welfare fraud and family support in the district attorney's office.

Cabrera, a 15-year veteran of the department, was acquitted of a single sexual battery charge by a jury in March 1997. The jury deadlocked on remaining counts of sexual assault as well as charges of false imprisonment and assault by an officer.

Prosecutors eventually dropped the case. They had accused Cabrera of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman in an abandoned police substation in 1995. Cabrera maintained that the charges were fabricated.

Cabrera had been fired by Walters but won back his job with back pay after taking the case to the city's personnel board. Walters continued to fight his return, filing a lawsuit to overturn Cabrera's reinstatement. Walters was unsuccessful, though, and Cabrera returned to work after his trial ended.

"We felt the board did not make the proper decision based on the evidence," Walters said.

Neither the Cabreras nor their attorney could be reached for comment Friday.

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