A half dozen public safety officers in Monterey County are facing jail time for exploiting unlicensed Latino residents by impounding their cars and selling them for a profit.
Six officers from King City—including the former and acting chiefs of police—have been arrested on charges of conspiracy, embezzlement and bribery.
According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, police officers collaborated with a local tow truck driver—the brother of the acting chief—and worked to impound hundreds of cars. The police department is supposed to rotate business between the four tow-truck outfits in King City, but prosecutors report that 87% of impound cases went directly to the chief’s brother’s company.
It has also been reported that one of the officers involved “earned” a free car for every 10-15 vehicles he towed.
Prosecutor Steve Somers remarked that he previously considered charging the officers with hate crime but later concluded that the scheme had more to do with vulnerable victims, than the fact that many were Latino.
“This is not a pleasant time for any of us in law enforcement, certainly not anyone in the District Attorney’s Office,” remarked DA Dean Flippo. “Any time you have violations — of the (police) oath, that is difficult for us.”
The officers are on paid administrative leave.
Read the full story at the Santa Cruz Sentinel.