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L.A. Officer Accused of Theft After LAX Sting Operations

June 12, 2004|Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writer

A veteran Los Angeles police officer assigned to undercover drug investigations at Los Angeles International Airport has been charged with stealing more than $2,000 from suspected drug dealers, department officials said Friday.

Roger Ramirez, a 23-year member of the Los Angeles Police Department, was arrested Wednesday night after finishing his shift at the airport, LAPD Deputy Chief Art Miller said. He was released on $20,000 bond.

Ramirez allegedly stole money in two undercover stings arranged after police received a tip accusing him of theft. The detective was part of a team that included local police and federal agents who were targeting drug dealing and the flow of drug money through LAX. Deputy Chief Michael Berkow said all indications were that Ramirez "was acting alone."

"It's an example of aggressive leadership that will not tolerate misconduct and integrity violations," Berkow said. "We are making cases and we are out there aggressively looking at these allegations when they come up."

LAPD officials say sting operations have become common under Chief William J. Bratton, rising from 40 stings in 2002 to 130 in 2003. The stings have targeted officers ranging from the rank and file to the top ranks.

Such stings represent an effort to better address internal misconduct after the Rampart corruption scandal and subsequent federal consent decree.

LAPD Capt. Julie Nelson, a 28-year veteran, was arrested after a sting in which she allegedly sold counterfeit DVDs to undercover officers. After another sting, Officer Michael Kapalungan was indicted by a grand jury on charges of allegedly molesting two women while responding to domestic disturbance calls.

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