Ex-Officer's Trial Could Taint Police
Court: Defendant accuses former Huntington Park colleagues of
evidence tampering, on-duty sex.
By RICHARD MAROSI
October 9, 2001
A former Huntington Park police
officer will soon face off against his onetime colleagues in a court case so
strange it inspired a judge to give some of the law enforcement participants a
He called the Huntington Park officers a "liars
In a case involving two jurisdictions, John Maley of Fountain
Valley is facing one count of possessing illegal ammunition in Orange County.
But he says Huntington Park officers framed him because they feared he would
expose wrongdoing, including alleged on-duty sex with prostitutes. The
long-running case is more than just a sordid tale of feuding cops and sexual
misadventures. The Huntington Park Police Department, already under
investigation for alleged civil rights violations, could face huge liability
costs and another blow to its reputation and credibility.
Though a judge
has scoffed at many of Maley's claims, he has ruled that some photographs
confiscated from Maley's Fountain Valley home disappeared and were possibly
destroyed by panicked Huntington Park officers.
"They are a bunch of
people running scared, for their jobs, from the City Council, from the press,
from investigations by perhaps the FBI, the [Internal Revenue Service]," said
Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Borris last year.
ruling, the judge refused to drop the charge against Maley but said the defense
could argue at trial that Huntington Park police had destroyed
Prosecutors are reviewing the case for any evidence of
police-related misconduct. Defense attorneys say old cases could be reopened in
a Rampart-like review if officers were found to have lied or tampered with
"It is really outrageous what they did," said Romero Jacinto of
the public integrity assurance section of the Los Angeles County public
defender's office. "We're going to see if any of their conduct has impacted our
The case against Maley began in April 1998, when Fountain Valley
police, concerned that Maley was "paranoid," raided the modest tract home that
he shares with his wife and two children.
Fountain Valley officers said
they confiscated two shotguns, 11 rifles and 11 handguns, most of them fully
loaded, as well as alleged destructive ingredients and espionage literature.
Also present at the raid were officers from Huntington Park, a blue-collar city
in southeast Los Angeles County.
Maley, who had retired from the
Huntington Park police six years earlier, was originally charged with 10
felonies. Most of those counts were either dismissed by judges, citing
insufficient evidence, or dropped by prosecutors. It is not clear why Orange
County prosecutors dropped other charges.
Maley has tried to get the
remaining count--possession of four tracer rounds--dismissed by saying Fountain
Valley officers improperly gave Huntington Park police four albums of
photographs. Maley says some of the photos disappeared.
allegedly showed an officer having sex with a woman near a police car and
officers cavorting with a scantily clad woman. Another one allegedly showed
numerous gun-toting, beer-drinking officers, in a line, exposing themselves
while on duty.
Judge Borris agreed that Fountain Valley police improperly
gave the evidence to their fellow agency. He said some of the photos--a "powder
keg" of embarrassing evidence--were then probably destroyed.
isn't the poster boy for bad faith, I don't know what is," he said. "I am
appalled. . . . I cannot express the distaste of what has happened here by means
of that Police Department."
But Borris did not dismiss the charge against
Maley, mainly because he believed that the officers were trying to protect
themselves, not harm his case.
Maley's attorney, Derek Bercher, however,
plans to revisit the issue at the trial, scheduled to start this week. Though
several photographs disappeared, others remain, and Bercher hopes to undermine
the department's credibility.
Some photographs show dancing drag queens
and gruesome crime and accident scenes. In one, a murder victim on a gurney--his
chest slashed open by a knife--has a sign wedged into his hand saying,
Another photograph shows officers allegedly mimicking
gang behavior by posing in front of a graffiti-covered wall.
left the force in 1992, said that he took some of the Polaroid photographs but
that others were given to him by officers. Maley, a British-born former Royal
Marine and Drug Enforcement Administration agent, portrays himself as a
chronicler of misdeeds.
"You always have a few clowns in any department,
but once I discovered that these guys are crooks and corrupt, I decided to keep
a collection that would be evidence of proof of their improprieties," he
Others doubt anything Maley says, calling him a disgruntled ex-cop
trying to deflect attention from his own alleged crimes. The judge said the
photographs amount to just a strange souvenir collection.
Maley and his former colleagues, Borris said: "His credibility is one of the
lowest. . . . He is part of the boys in the liars club, Orange County chapter,
of the Huntington Park Police Department."
Borris also harshly criticized
several Huntington Park officers, right up to Chief Randy E. Narramore, who was
questioned about the photographs at last year's hearing.
judge said, gave contradictory answers that were "all over the map." Borris
likened the chief to a bumbling TV character.
"He basically says, 'I know
nothing,' comparable to . . . Sgt. Klink on 'Hogan's Heroes,' " said the judge,
misnaming the television character, Sgt. Schultz, in the 1960s series about a
World War II prison camp.
Narramore, in an interview, said that he
couldn't comment on the judge's ruling, but that Maley possesses a "demented
imagination" that has caused many people "undue heartache."
expected to testify at the trial, which attorneys say could last one to two
weeks at the courthouse in Westminster.
The case has split the City
Council in Huntington Park, where the FBI is still investigating the 72-member
department over allegations of police abuse of minorities.
Linda Luz Guevara often mentions the case during meetings in an effort to expose
alleged wrongdoing. But Mayor Ric Loya stands by Narramore.
point in time, we're leaning with our chief," he said. "We're all watching it
carefully. We feel confident enough that when the whole thing is done, we'll be