SANTA ANA – A former Orange County Superior Courtroom clerk pleaded responsible on Wednesday, March 29, to fixing greater than 1,000 misdemeanor felony instances and visitors offenses in change for bribe cash over 5 years.
In all, he took in $250,000 to $500,000.
Jose Lopez Jr., 36, might resist 20 years in federal jail when sentenced on Sept. 22, however prosecutors will ask for 9 years behind bars underneath a plea settlement signed this month, stated his lawyer, Brian Gurwitz.
Standing subsequent to his lawyer on Wednesday, Lopez pleaded responsible to a federal racketeering cost for operating a community that collected bribes from defendants to tweak 1,034 instances, together with sixty nine misdemeanor DUI instances and one hundred sixty different misdemeanor expenses.
Prosecutors stated Lopez employed middlemen to gather bribe cash, typically charging as much as $eight,000 per case.
As a clerk with particular entry to the courtroom’s pc system, Lopez, employed by the state in 2008, would tamper with instances to make it seem that defendants had paid charges or carried out the required group service.
He is also accused of adjusting data to make it seem that second-time DUI offenders had served obligatory jail time once they had not.
The Anaheim resident turned ticket-fixing right into a worthwhile aspect enterprise; he used a number of the funds to open a Mexican restaurant in Backyard Grove.
Federal brokers additionally arrested eleven of his alleged “recruiters,” who labored outdoors of the courthouse to unfold the phrase that tickets in Orange County could possibly be modified for a worth.
9 of these recruiters have since pleaded responsible, whereas one other is scheduled to plead responsible subsequent month, authorities stated. The eleventh, Javed Asefi, forty four, of Ladera Ranch is scheduled for trial on Might 2.
Investigators started wanting into the case in early 2015 after a courtroom worker observed a single doc was lacking in a courtroom file; the file contained Lopez’s worker ID.
Quickly, different instances have been inspected, prompting judges to re-open lots of of seemingly resolved visitors instances.
In some instances, he had made it appear that plea offers have been struck; they have been reversed, and different drivers have been ordered to pay the fines that had truly by no means been paid, or made to serve their jail sentences.
Federal prosecutors stated they consider they’ve discovered and resolved all the tampered instances.
“The defendant … probably undermined public security by primarily serving as decide and jury in scores of instances to complement himself,” stated Deirdre Fike, the assistant director answerable for the FBI’s Los Angeles Area Workplace, in a press release.
Orange County Superior Courtroom has refined its auditing practices and redesigned its software program to stop future issues.