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Second Ex-L.A Officer Confesses to Rogue Cop Heists

Jesse Moya is The Second to Admit Stealing Drugs and Cash in Staged Raids

By Scott Glover and Matt Lait, The Los Angeles Times

A second former Los Angeles police officer has admitted he was among a group of rogue cops who committed invasion-style robberies across Southern California staged to look like legitimate law enforcement raids, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

Jesse Moya, 27, has agreed to plead guilty to a conspiracy charge for his role in the criminal organization, which has been accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of drugs, cash, guns and other items over about four years beginning in 1998, the documents show.

The onetime Southeast Division officer has agreed to cooperate with federal authorities. He faces up to 10 years in prison and at least a $250,000 fine, but his sentence could be reduced if he provides "substantial assistance" to federal investigators.

Moya's plea deal comes less than two months after former LAPD Officer Ruben Palomares admitted in court documents that he was the ringleader of the group. Palomares, Moya and their cohorts wore police uniforms and badges and employed "police tactics" during their robberies, some of which became violent, the documents said.

Records show that at least two victims were shot with stun guns. Another victim was beaten with a police baton, had a gun shoved in his mouth and was burned with a lighter.

During some of their holdups, the suspects used LAPD squad cars that were taken from the Police Academy without authorization, according to court records.

In addition to Palomares and Moya, at least four other current or former law enforcement officers are suspected of participating in the crime spree. Two are Long Beach police officers, one is a former LAPD officer and another is a former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who is now a prison guard.

Other members of Palomares' crew included a professional female boxer and two relatives who had graduated from the California Peace Officer Standards and Training Course at Rio Hondo Community College in Whittier.

Moya served as an LAPD officer for five years before he resigned in August amid the federal probe. He is scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 13. His attorney, Bill Seki, declined to comment.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O'Brien, a prosecutor in the case, also declined to comment.

Federal authorities first learned of Palomares' criminal activity in June 2001, when he was arrested on suspicion of trying to buy 10 kilos of cocaine from undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agents.

One of Palomares' accomplices immediately began telling investigators that they had been involved in many other crimes. In addition to the string of robberies, the accomplice implicated Palomares in a 2000 killing in Huntington Park, law enforcement sources have said.

Like Moya, Palomares agreed to cooperate with authorities. He is facing a potential life sentence, but he too hopes to shave time off that sentence.

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