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Ex-LAPD Officer Pleads Not Guilty in Extortion

September 13, 2000

POMONA — A former Los Angeles police officer pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of impersonating a police officer, false imprisonment and extortion.

Michael Costuma, 51, of La Verne is accused of pretending to be a sheriff's deputy to persuade a waitress to return money she was suspected of stealing from a San Dimas diner.

Authorities allege that Costuma searched the waitress's purse and room at the Red Roof Inn, then threatened to arrest her if she didn't return the allegedly stolen money. Authorities said there is no evidence to suggest the waitress had the money.

The restaurant owner, Giuseppe Amorelli, 60, entered a not guilty plea Tuesday to charges of extortion, false imprisonment, conspiring to dissuade a witness and bribery.

Last month, a Pomona Superior Court judge found there was sufficient evidence for the two men to stand trial on the charges. Each could face as much as four years in prison if convicted of extortion, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Christopher Duff.

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