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Perjury case against El Monte police officers to be dismissed

Amid an officer's sexual harassment lawsuit against the El Monte Police Department, a prosecutor files perjury charges against the officer and her husband. But those charges weren't reviewed by a special unit that handles cases against law enforcement officials. The case will be reviewed.

April 01, 2011|By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office has decided to dismiss a perjury case against two El Monte police officers because the prosecutor did not follow office policy in filing the case.

But officials said a unit that specializes in law enforcement prosecutions would review the investigation to decide whether to refile charges against Officer Jerilyn Mechelle Marin and her husband, Officer Daniel Marin, who were accused of lying on forms about carpooling.

The charges filed last week came as jurors began hearing testimony in a civil sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Jerilyn Mechelle Marin against her El Monte police supervisors.

Their attorney questioned the timing of the charges, saying they appeared to be retribution by the El Monte Police Department.

"This is the most clear-cut case of retaliation I've seen for suing a department," Solomon Gresen said. "They told my client's husband about the charges right before he was due to testify.… The department took his gun and badge."

El Monte Police Chief Tom Armstrong said there is no connection between the criminal charges and the sexual harassment lawsuit.

"This has been under investigation for some time," he said. "It was reviewed by an independent body. We presented the facts to the L.A. district attorney's [office], and they made the decision to file."

Armstrong said both officers have been suspended.

Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, said her office decided to dismiss the perjury case because prosecutor Mark Evans, head deputy district attorney in the West Covina courthouse, did not present the case to a special unit that reviews investigations against law enforcement officials. It's unclear why Evans bypassed the unit, but Gibbons said the lapse was serious enough that the case needed to be dismissed.

The unit will now review the case and decide whether to refile charges. "We have an office policy," she said. "We are basically clearing the slate so we can do this properly."

Evans did not return calls seeking comment.

The Marins were accused of felony perjury. Jerilyn Mechelle Marin was also charged with two counts of forgery related to the carpooling forms.

Gresen said that the Marins filled out monthly carpooling forms in advance and that on occasion schedules and events changed, but they had no intent to do anything wrong.

Jerilyn Mechelle Marin is suing the El Monte Police Department. She alleges her supervisor sexually harassed her, including demands for sexual favors.

richard.winton@latimes.com

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