LOS ANGELES – A former Montebello police officer pleaded guilty today to a federal bribery charge for accepting at least $14,000 in cash from a drug trafficker in exchange for escorting narcotics shipments and searching a police database to supply the trafficker information on people suspected of cooperating with law enforcement.
As the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles, Rudolph Petersen, 34, pleaded guilty to a single-count information charging him with bribery.
Petersen served as a Montebello Police officer for nearly four years, and from December 2018 to August 2020, according to his plea agreement, Petersen solicited and received numerous cash bribes from a gang member and drug trafficker identified in court document as “Co-Schemer 2.”
In mid-2018, Co-Schemer 2 had dinner with Petersen and stated he could put Petersen “on his payroll,” and, through an intermediary, gave Petersen $500.
Co-Schemer 2 met again with Petersen in December 2018. During that meeting, Co-Schemer 2 offered – and Petersen agreed to accept – a $10,000 bribe to escort a vehicle containing a shipment of narcotics and protect it from law enforcement and would-be robbers.
Three months later, Petersen – who was armed and wearing a security guard uniform that resembled an official police uniform – successfully escorted a white U-Haul truck containing what Petersen believed was illegally grown marijuana from Fontana to a location off California State Route 60 near Rowland Heights. Petersen returned to the residence of Co-Schemer 2, who gave him a paper bag filled with $10,000 in cash. Petersen admitted to escorting at least one additional drug shipment for Co-Schemer 2.
Petersen also admitted to accessing a law enforcement database to search for information on an individual whom Co-Schemer 2 believed was a “snitch” who had helped law enforcement intercept a cocaine shipment. In exchange for bribes of $500 to $1,000 per database search, Petersen reported to Co-Schemer 2 the information on the individual, as well as others suspected of cooperating with law enforcement.
In September 2020, Co-Schemer 2 paid Petersen $1,000 to investigate whether tracking devices found on vehicles that he and another co-schemer used were part of a state or federal law enforcement investigation.
Petersen admitted to accepting at least $14,000 in bribes.
U.S. District Judge Stanley Blumenfeld Jr. has scheduled a January 11, 2022 sentencing hearing, at which time Petersen will face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California’s International Narcotics, Money Laundering and Racketeering Section.
HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move.
HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 Special Agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.
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