11/30/2000

19-year veteran patrol officer arrested in California prostitution sting
[FRESNO, CA]

(FRESNO, Calif.) -- A 19-year veteran of the Fresno Police Department was among those arrested during a prostitution sting two weeks ago on Blackstone Avenue.

Patrol officer Michael Dean Nella, 46, was arrested Nov. 14 and cited for allegedly soliciting an undercover officer. The charge is a misdemeanor.

According to police records, Nella drove into a parking lot, approached the undercover officer near Blackstone and Saginaw avenues and asked her how much she charged for oral sex. Nella's jeans were unzipped at the time, the report says.

The undercover officer told Nella she wanted $20 and asked him to meet her on a side street where they wouldn't be seen. As Nella drove to that area, he was stopped by other officers and arrested.

Sgt. Walter Boston, who runs the prostitution stings for the northwest policing district, said it's the first time he can remember that a regular police officer has been arrested during this type of sting.

In a statement to the arresting officers, Nella said he wasn't soliciting but rather trying to "make a case" against the "prostitute."

According to the report, Nella said: "I've made cases like this before, and there hasn't been a problem with it."

He also told officers he was on his way home at the time of his arrest.

Telephone calls to his Madera County home went unanswered Monday.

Lt. John Fries said he couldn't talk about Nella's status with the department because it is a personnel matter.

If Nella is convicted, Chief Ed Winchester will ultimately decide whether to take any action. State law does not require the firing of an officer convicted of a misdemeanor.

Boston said his district's problem-oriented policing team conducts prostitution stings using officers as decoys about twice a month. Recent stings have netted about 20 arrests each.

Each suspect is cited and released unless he is on parole or committing another crime, such as being in the possession of drugs.

The reporter can be reached at mkreamer@fresnobee.comor 441-6208. Bee staff writer Bill McEwen contributed to this report.

Prostitution sting nets Fresno cop 19-year veteran of the force said he was trying to 'make a case' against a woman on Blackstone Avenue.
Matthew Kreamer THE FRESNO BEE
November 28, 2000, Tuesday FINAL EDITION
Copyright 2000 McClatchy Newspapers, Inc.
The Fresno Bee
November 28, 2000, Tuesday FINAL EDITION
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