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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Judge Refuses to Reduce Bail for Rampart Officer

August 04, 2000

LOS ANGELES — A Superior Court judge declined Thursday to lower the $680,000 bail set for suspended Los Angeles Police Officer Nino Durden, who is charged with attempted murder and five other crimes stemming from his activities at the department's troubled Rampart Division station.

Durden, 32, has been in jail since his arrest last Friday, but Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler said the bail level is appropriate, given the seriousness of the charges.

Defense lawyers asked the court to reduce the bail to $240,000, citing Durden's ties to the community and noting that he did not flee during the lengthy investigation of allegations against him by his one-time partner, ex-LAPD Officer Rafael Perez.

After Thursday's hearing, Bill Seki, one of Durden's attorneys, said his client hopes to post bail by this weekend. "Obviously, he wants to get out," Seki said. "We'd like him out to assist us with his defense."

The charges against Durden are the most serious criminal allegations yet lodged against an officer in the corruption scandal, which so far has forced the dismissal of nearly 100 criminal convictions.

Perez, who is cooperating with authorities to secure a lesser sentence for stealing cocaine from a police evidence facility, has alleged that he and Durden shot an unarmed man, Francisco Javier Ovando, then planted a gun on him and framed him for assault.

Durden has been charged with attempting to murder Ovando, who was paralyzed by the shooting. Ovando's conviction was overturned and he was released from prison after Perez gave authorities his account of the incident.

Durden also is charged with one count each of perjury under oath and second-degree robbery, and two counts of filing a false police report. If convicted of all charges, according to prosecutors, he could receive nearly 30 years in prison. A date for a preliminary hearing is to be set Aug. 16.

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