Accused of accepting at least $14,000 in bribes from a gang member to escort drug shipments, a former California police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to one count of bribery.
In mid-2018, Montebello Police Officer Rudolph Petersen had dinner with a gang member and drug dealer who offered to put the cop on his payroll and paid him $500 through an intermediary. In December 2018, Officer Petersen met the gang member again and agreed to escort a vehicle shipping narcotics in exchange for $10,000 in cash.
Three months later, Petersen wore a security guard uniform while carrying a firearm when he successfully escorted a white U-Haul truck suspected of containing illegally grown marijuana from Fontana to Rowland Heights. In addition to receiving $10,000 in cash from the gang member, Petersen later admitted to escorting at least one additional drug shipment for the gang member.
After the gang member told Petersen that a recent cocaine shipment had been busted by the cops, Petersen agreed to access the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS), which provides access to FBI databases, in order to investigate a suspected snitch. Petersen went on to receive $500 to $1,000 for each database search of the gang member’s subsequent suspected snitches.
On September 16, 2020, Petersen received $1,000 to investigate whether tracking devices found on the gang member’s van and another drug dealer’s vehicle belonged to a state or federal law enforcement agency.
In July 2021, Petersen agreed to plead guilty to one count of bribery and admitted to accepting at least $14,000 in bribes from the unidentified gang member in his offered plea deal. On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced that prosecutors have accepted the plea agreement.
U.S. District Judge Stanley Blumenfeld Jr. has scheduled a January 11, 2022 sentencing hearing, at which time Petersen will face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.