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Former Pasadena Schools Officer Gets 6 Months in Jail for Burglary

Court: Videotape caught him committing the crime at a school while on duty. He asks for no jail time but admits he deserves it.

November 30, 2000|RICHARD WINTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A former Pasadena schools police officer who was caught on camera committing an inside break-in while on duty at a high school was sentenced Wednesday to six months in jail for felony burglary.

Before sentencing, Michael Babb, 38, of Pomona apologized repeatedly in Pasadena Superior Court and asked to remain free so he could support his children.

"I apologize for the incident. I ask that my apology be taken into consideration," Babb told Superior Court Judge Joseph DeVanon. "I have two daughters. If I am not out somewhere working, my children suffer."

But Babb conceded, "This is probably something I deserve." Visibly uncomfortable, Babb squirmed as he spoke and tried to shield his face from cameras.

DeVanon sentenced the former school officer to 180 days in jail and three years' felony probation and ordered him to make restitution to the district.

Although Babb has shown remorse, DeVanon said, he breached the public trust and deserved to go to jail.

The sentiment was repeated by Deputy Dist. Atty. Thomas Krag. "He was a sworn officer who stole the very items he was meant to protect," Krag said after Babb's sentencing. "He'll never wear the uniform he dishonored again. He'll never carry a firearm again."

Krag had asked the judge to sentence Babb to a year in jail.

"The pictures and video show him prying open a door with a screwdriver . . . just like a common thief," Krag said. "In the video, he is rifling the desks. He is an opportunist criminal."

Babb pleaded guilty last month to one count of commercial burglary at Pasadena High School, where he was captured by a concealed video camera burglarizing the campus business office shortly before 6 a.m. on May 7 while on duty. As part of a plea bargain, three other burglary charges and a charge that he had used a firearm in the commission of a crime were dismissed.

Babb's attorney, Gerald Cobb, told the judge Wednesday that his client "acknowledges breaking" his public trust but said Babb was "a good man, a decent man and what he did in his capacity and position is inexplicable to himself and his family."

Since his May 9 arrest, Cobb said, Babb has become "an emotional wreck." Babb, who was hired by the Pasadena Unified School District in November 1998, was fired a few hours after his arrest.

During Babb's tenure at Pasadena Unified, there were more than 50 campus burglaries, prosecutors said. A Pasadena High School vice principal had set up the video camera at the business office after a burglary two days earlier.

Prosecutors said that, after being confronted with photographs taken from the videotape, Babb confessed to investigators that he had been involved in three other burglaries: one at Washington Middle School in February or early March March 1999; one at Roosevelt Elementary School on Jan. 26 or Jan. 27, 2000; and an earlier one at Pasadena High School between Dec. 17, 1999, and Jan. 3, 2000.

Krag said detectives recovered a Washington Middle School computer and a color printer from a storage locker in San Bernardino County rented by Babb. Investigators also found numerous items they believed had been stolen inside Babb's police locker--including more than 400 quarters.

Said Krag: "I don't think they were for his laundry."

Babb will surrender to the county Sheriff's Department Jan. 9 to begin his sentence. He could serve the time in a local jail or, as part of a work-release program, in which he would be allowed to work during the day but would spend his free time behind bars.

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