Rialto police officer indicted in federal bribery case
10:27 PM PDT on Monday, June 6, 2011
By RICHARD BROOKS
A Rialto police officer from Highland has been indicted and arrested on
federal bribery charges that accuse him of conspiring with an _Orange_
County defense lawyer to make false
statements to help a defendant charged with assault, U.S. Attorney's officials
Officer Aaron Scott Vigil, 41, and attorney Lawrence Anthony Witsoe, 67, of
_Mission Viejo_ (http://topics.pe.com/topic/Mission_Viejo)
to _FBI_ (http://topics.pe.com/topic/Federal_Bureau_of_Investigation)
agents after being named in a three-count indictment handed down Wednesday.
"The indictment, which was unsealed this morning, alleges that Vigil, who
served as a task force officer with the _Drug Enforcement Administration_
, agreed to
accept a $2,500 bribe in exchange for falsely telling the _Orange_
County District Attorney's Office that a
criminal defendant being represented by Witsoe was a cooperator who had provided
information to the DEA," U.S. Attorney's spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a
Vigil and Witsoe are charged with conspiracy and with soliciting and
accepting a bribe by a public official, according to the statement. Witsoe also
is charged with bribery of a public official.
The indictment says that the scheme began in 2009 when Witsoe told a client
who was facing assault charges that for $1,000 -- but later increased to
$2,500 -- Witsoe potentially could get the case dismissed.
"Witsoe told the client that he could have a DEA agent call the Orange
County District Attorney's Office, explain that the client was a DEA informant
and ask the district attorney for consideration for the work the client had
performed for the DEA," the statement says.
"Thereafter, Vigil contacted the Orange County District Attorney's Office
on several occasions and explained that Witsoe's client had provided
reliable information regarding drug traffickers and that his cooperation led to
the DEA seizing $110,000 in drug money," according to the statement. "When
the district attorney dismissed the case, Witsoe instructed the client to
wire the $2,500 to his client trust account, and Witsoe then wrote a check to
the ex-wife of an associate of Vigil."
Reach Richard Brooks at 951-368-9463 or _rbrooks@...
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