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Judge refuses to overturn $5 million awards to LA officers

The Associated Press

SANTA ANA, California- A federal judge refused Monday to overturn awards of $5 million (euro3.92 million) each to three police officers who claimed the city of Los Angeles made them scapegoats for a corruption scandal.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney upheld a February jury decision involving the officers.

A call to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's spokesman seeking comment was not immediately returned. An after-hours call to the chief administrative office also was not immediately returned.

The three men _ Officer Paul Harper, suspended Sgt. Edward Ortiz and former Officer Brian Liddy _ were arrested in April 2000 on corruption counts.

All were implicated by former Officer Rafael Perez, who helped expose a scandal in which anti-gang officers beat, robbed, framed and sometimes shot innocent people in the city's tough Rampart neighborhood.

Scores of convictions were thrown out and millions of dollars (euros) in settlements were paid as a result of the revelations.

A jury convicted the three officers in 2000 of conspiracy to obstruct justice in the framing of two reputed gang members. A Superior Court judge threw out the convictions a month later, citing faulty jury instructions.

Prosecutors decided not to continue to pursue and a judge dismissed the charges in 2004.

The policemen sued the city last August, claiming authorities had ignored problems with Perez's credibility and were eager to use them as an example of the police department's reform effort.

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