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L.A. sheriff’s detective pleads no contest to filing a false report in a drug raid

A Los Angeles County sheriff’s detective pleaded no contest Tuesday to filing a false report in connection with a 2018 drug raid in East L.A., more than two years after another investigator testified against him.

Pedro Guerrero-Gonzalez will receive probation and must permanently give up his status as a peace officer in California after pleading no contest to one misdemeanor count of filing a false police report, according to L.A. County Deputy Dist. Atty. Greg Apt.

Guerrero-Gonzalez and another gang detective, Noel Lopez, were indicted in 2021 in connection with the search of an East L.A. home that netted a haul of firearms including an assault rifle, a large amount of methamphetamine, black tar heroin and items used to bag and distribute drugs. Sheriff’s Det. Jason McGinty, who was also part of the raid, alleged Guerrero-Gonzalez asked him to say he’d seen one of the suspects holding the rifle when they entered the room, according to court records.

“I told him no, that that’s not what happened and that I wasn’t going to say that,” McGinty recalled in May 2021 testimony before an L.A. County grand jury.

Detectives had found the rifle in a case and neither of the suspects had touched it, according to McGinty, who testified he was the first person to reach the room where detectives arrested two men and seized weapons and drugs.

But Guerrero-Gonzalez filed a report claiming McGinty made the allegation about the suspect and Lopez repeated that detail in a sworn probable cause declaration, prosecutors alleged. The claim was later used to bring gun charges against one of the suspects in the raid, according to court records. McGinty said he was unaware of the report the other detectives had filed until he was subpoenaed to testify at a preliminary hearing against the raid suspect, according to court records.

McGinty made a complaint about the false document to the Sheriff’s Department’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau a short time later, and the case against the defendants arrested during the 2018 raid collapsed.

All three investigators were part of the Sheriff’s Department’s Operation Safe Streets bureau, a unit designed to target street gangs and disrupt narcotics trafficking. McGinty has since left the department, according to two people with knowledge of the case who requested anonymity to speak about Sheriff’s Department personnel matters.

It was not clear why he resigned. The Sheriff’s Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning. Previous attempts to contact McGinty were not successful.

Guerrero-Gonzalez was initially charged with a felony, but L.A. County Superior Court Judge Michael Garcia downgraded the count to a misdemeanor after the indictment, according to Apt. The case was set to go to trial this week, but the detective entered his plea on the eve of jury selection.

His attorney, Vicki Podberesky, did not reply to an e-mail seeking comment.

Perjury charges against Lopez were dismissed Tuesday after prosecutors determined they could not prove the electronic signature used on the probable cause declaration related to the raid was actually entered by the detective, according to Apt.

Lopez’s attorney, Tom Yu, said the detective has always served East L.A. “with the utmost honor, integrity and commitment to make the community safer by combating gang violence” and called the prosecution an attack on the Operation Safe Streets bureau itself.

“In light of the case being dismissed against my client, he is finally able to move on and close this chapter of his life,” Yu said.

Times staff writer Alene Tchekmedyian contributed to this report.

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