Pubdate: Tue, 26 Sep 2000
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Los Angeles Times
Contact:  Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053
Fax: (213) 237-7679
Author: Matt Lait, Scott Glover, Times Staff Writers
Bookmark: additional articles on the LAPD Rampart corruption scandal are 
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Rampart: An Inmate Says The Jailed Ex-officer Boasted Of Having The Power 
To Implicate People, 'Innocent Or Not.'

In yet another challenge to the credibility of ex-Los Angeles Police 
Officer Rafael Perez, LAPD officials have belatedly turned over the 
statement of a jailhouse informant who told authorities that Perez once 
boasted of having the power to wreak havoc on the lives of those who 
crossed him, according to documents reviewed by The Times.

"If someone pisses me off, I'll throw their name into a hat and they'll get 
investigated--innocent or not," Perez allegedly told his cellmate as 
another prisoner listened in. The allegation comes from Hank Rodriguez, 
another jailed ex-L.A. officer, according to the confidential documents 
that are the object of a court order forbidding their release. Rodriguez 
claims that he spent time in the cell next to Perez's after he was jailed 
on a parole violation stemming from a DUI conviction. Documents also show 
that Rodriguez was fired from the LAPD in 1974 after being accused of forgery.

Rodriguez alleged to Rampart task force investigators in March that, in the 
presence of fellow inmates, Perez adopted "a gang member type of attitude." 
According to the informant, he periodically broke into rap tunes and 
boasted of having a book and movie deal.

Winston Kevin McKesson, Perez's attorney, said his client has never met 

"This is pure folly," McKesson said. "Just more people coming out of the 
woodwork." He noted that there are several officers Perez does not like 
whom he has not implicated in the scandal.

It is not known whether authorities have confirmed that Rodriguez was in a 
cell next to Perez's. Nor is it known whether they have located or 
interviewed the cellmate to whom Rodriguez alleges Perez boasted of having 
the power to make problems for those who made him angry.

In general, information from jailhouse informants is viewed with 
skepticism. Often such informants trade fabricated information to win some 
benefit in their own cases, or to ingratiate themselves with authorities. 
In the late 1980s, the California Legislature passed a law requiring that 
jurors be warned to view informants' testimony with suspicion.

Though Rodriguez made the allegation more than five months ago, his 
statement was misplaced by LAPD investigators until earlier this month, 
according to a letter from LAPD Cmdr. Dan Schatz, who is overseeing the 
Rampart probe.

Schatz wrote the letter after Superior Court Judge Jacqueline A. Connor 
told him she wanted a detailed explanation for the delay in turning the 
information over to prosecutors, who are preparing to go to trial with a 
case against four of Perez's former colleagues in the Rampart Division. As 
a result of the LAPD's failure to provide the information, prosecutors did 
not turn the allegations over in a timely manner to defense attorneys 
representing the accused officers.

That is a potentially serious oversight because the defense attorneys might 
be able to use Rodriguez's allegations to undermine Perez's credibility, 
should he be called as a witness.

Perez, the central figure in the ongoing LAPD corruption scandal, has 
agreed to cooperate with authorities in exchange for a lighter prison 
sentence for stealing cocaine. He has implicated dozens of officers in 
crimes and misconduct. To date, nearly 100 convictions have been overturned 
largely as a result of his information.

While police officials contend that they have corroborated 70%-80% of 
Perez's allegations, his credibility has come under sharp attack from 
defense attorneys representing LAPD officers he has accused of crimes.

Perez's credibility was further challenged when it was disclosed last week 
that one of his former lovers alleges that he was involved in crimes with 
David Mack, a convicted bank robber and ex-LAPD officer. That witness 
alleges that the pair killed two people in a "crash pad" apartment near the 
Rampart police station where Perez once worked. Investigators served a 
search warrant last week on another Rampart officer whose 1986 BMW the 
witness alleges was used to dispose of the bodies.

The woman, whose identity is being withheld by The Times at the request of 
authorities, claims to have witnessed a major cocaine transaction between 
Mack and Perez in 1992.

Perez has denied any criminal involvement with Mack, his former friend and 
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