PALMDALE – A 29-year-old Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, most recently assigned to the Palmdale Station, pleaded no contest today to rape and bribery charges, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Jose Rigoberto Sanchez pleaded to one count each of rape under color of authority and soliciting a bribe in connection with a pair of incidents four years ago.
Sanchez was on duty at the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station, on Sept. 22, 2010, when he pulled over a 24-year-old female driver who had an outstanding warrant. Sanchez offered not to arrest the woman if she had sex with him. He then drove the victim into the desert and raped her, according to prosecutors.
Two nights later, the Palmdale deputy pulled over a 36-year-old woman for investigation of DUI and solicited a bribe in the form of sexual activity, prosecutors said.
Acting on a tip from an informant, the Sheriff’s Department Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau launched an investigation into the incidents, and Sanchez was relieved of duty with pay in 2010, sheriff’s officials said.
In late July of 2013, Sanchez was charged with 11 felony counts, including sexual penetration under the color of authority, rape under fear or duress, and soliciting bribes from alleged victims. Sanchez, a seven-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, was arrested at his home around 5:30 p.m., July 29, 2013, and held in lieu $1.4 million bail. On the day of his arrest, Sanchez was relieved of duty without pay, according to sheriff’s officials.
After months of case delays, Sanchez was due in court for a preliminary hearing Thursday (3/13), where a judge would decide if there was enough evidence for a trial. Sanchez pleaded no contest instead, and was ordered to return to court on April 4, when he will be sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison, according to the District Attorney’s office. Sanchez also must register as a sex offender.
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