Advertisement
 

LAPD's Perez Was Dealing Drugs in '92, Ex-Lover Says

Scandal: In account that hits at his credibility, she says he made a cocaine deal with an officer who is now in prison.

September 17, 2000|MATT LAIT and SCOTT GLOVER and TERRY McDERMOTT | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A former lover of ex-Los Angeles Police Officer Rafael Perez has told LAPD investigators that she witnessed a major cocaine transaction between the onetime Rampart Division officer and another since-disgraced cop, bank robber David Mack, outside a Hollywood nightclub in 1992, according to documents obtained by The Times.

Perez, who has admitted many instances of misconduct, nonetheless has told police and prosecutors that he never committed any crimes with Mack, his former friend and narcotics division partner. He has insisted, according to transcripts of his questioning, that the first time he broke the law as a police officer was after he became a Rampart CRASH officer in 1995.

If substantiated, the woman's allegations could significantly affect the still-unfolding LAPD corruption scandal on two fronts: First, they suggest that the police criminality at the heart of the scandal extended beyond the troubled Rampart Division and predated the misconduct of that station's anti-gang CRASH unit. Second, they could undermine prosecutors' ability to use Perez as a credible witness against other allegedly corrupt cops.

Investigators on the police department's anti-corruption task force, however, have long suspected that the two were criminal associates. Two days after Mack robbed a Los Angeles bank of more than $700,000 in 1997, the two, along with another LAPD officer, Sam Martin, went to Las Vegas, where they spent thousands of dollars, police said.

The woman's allegations, if proved, could result in perjury charges against Perez, who a year ago accepted a plea bargain in which he agreed to provide truthful evidence against other corrupt police officers in return for a lighter prison sentence for stealing eight pounds of cocaine being held as evidence at LAPD facilities.

The witness to the alleged narcotics transaction--whose name is being withheld by The Times to protect her safety--said she and Perez had a years-long affair during which she frequently visited an apartment, or so-called crash pad, near the Rampart station where she watched Perez, Martin and numerous other anti-gang officers use drugs, including cocaine.

Perez's defense attorney, Winston Kevin McKesson, denied the woman's allegations.

"I can't comment on this young lady's motives, expect to say that her story, as far as criminal conduct by Perez, bears no resemblance to reality," McKesson said Saturday.

Donald M. Re, who represented Mack in the bank robbery case, could not be reached for comment Saturday afternoon. Mack is serving a 14-year sentence in federal prison for the crime.

The woman, now in her mid-20s, was a teenager at the time of the alleged affair and has told investigators that she does not precisely remember the dates she was involved with Perez. Some of her memories, in fact, appear to be wrong. For example, she said Perez took her to see a particular movie late in 1991. According to investigators, the film had not yet been released.

But Perez has admitted to investigators that he had sex with the woman on one occasion, according to transcripts of interviews with his interrogators that were obtained by The Times. The woman was also able to lead investigators, unassisted, to the secret crash pad near the Rampart station. Perez told his interrogators that he never took her there. She also knew where Perez and his family lived.

Although the woman was interviewed by LAPD investigators eight months ago, prosecutors were not given transcripts of her statements until two weeks ago, according to a source familiar with the case and a district attorney's office document obtained by The Times.

Last week, prosecutors turned her allegations over to defense lawyers who are attempting to overturn the murder conviction of a man who says Perez framed him. In part, defense lawyers allege, Perez did that by using his relationship with the young woman to persuade her to testify falsely that she had witnessed Anthony Adams' committing the slaying for which he subsequently was convicted of murder.

Although the woman implicates Perez in a host of other crimes, she denies that he asked her to commit perjury in Adams' case.

Despite her insistence that she witnessed the killing, Adams' lawyer, Arthur Goldberg, said the involvement of an alleged eyewitness in an undisclosed sexual relationship with one of the investigators in his client's case is enough to overturn Adams' conviction.

"How could they not release him?" asked Goldberg, who provided the documents to The Times. "The crime here is that they held back information. . . . It's disgusting."

LAPD Cmdr. David J. Kalish, the department's spokesman, said there was no intentional delay in release of the material.

"This is a complex situation," Kalish said. "This woman's allegations are being thoroughly investigated."

Whatever the effect of her allegations on Adams' case, the woman offers another sordid account of the alleged misconduct of Perez and his former colleagues in the Rampart Division.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|