A Santa Ana police officer pleaded guilty Wednesday to accepting $128,000 in bribes to protect illegal businesses operating in the city.
Officer Steven Lopez, 29, admitted he took the money from an unnamed crime figure in return for a promise to keep law enforcement officers from inspecting, searching or shutting down the businesses.
The man who made the payoffs was seeking protection for Vietnamese gambling operations, according to a person familiar with the matter. It was unclear whether Lopez, who joined Santa Ana’s police force in 2016, was in a position to provide such protection.
Lopez took some of the money last September in a late-night meeting with the man on the top floor of a parking structure across the street from Santa Ana police headquarters, Assistant U.S. Atty. Daniel Lim said at a court hearing conducted remotely on Zoom.
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