California police officer agrees to plead guilty to bribery charge

“Mr. Lopez’s decision to plead guilty was a first step in making amends for the harm that he knows he caused to law enforcement.”

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Accused of accepting $128,000 in bribes, a California police officer was recently charged with one felony count of bribery. Later that day, the officer filed a plea agreement in which he agreed to plead guilty to this felony offense.

From April 2016 to November 2020, Steven Lopez served as a police officer with the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD). Beginning in August 2019, Lopez received approximately $128,000 in bribes from an unnamed crime figure seeking to protect his illegal business activities.

According to Lopez, he agreed to prevent or stop law enforcement compliance checks at businesses illegally operating under the crime figure’s control. Lopez also agreed to thwart law enforcement efforts to shut down those businesses, including any searches and seizures at those illegally operated businesses.

On the evening of September 14, Lopez, who was on duty and wearing his police uniform, met his co-conspirator on the top floor of a parking structure across the street from SAPD headquarters and accepted another bribe payment. On November 2, Lopez was once again on duty, wearing his police uniform, and driving an SAPD-marked vehicle when he accepted a $2,500 bribe payment at the corner of First and Fairview streets in Santa Ana.

On Tuesday, Lopez was charged with one felony count of bribery. Later that day, he filed a plea agreement in which he agreed to plead guilty in the upcoming weeks.

“Mr. Lopez’s decision to plead guilty was a first step in making amends for the harm that he knows he caused to law enforcement,” Lopez’s attorney, Brian Gurwitz said in a statement. “His conduct was the result of serious personal issues that he is addressing.”

According to the SAPD, Lopez remains on administrative leave and his peace officer powers have been suspended.

Upon entering his guilty plea, Lopez will face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

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