Federal prosecutors charged a former Orange County court clerk last month with bribery for his role in terminating more than 1,000 criminal cases without appropriate judicial instruction to do so. According to federal prosecutors, Jose Lopez accepted more than $200,000 in payments to close criminal court cases prematurely.
In addition to charges against Lopez, prosecutors filed charges against 11 other defendants who acted as recruiters for Lopez. Recruiters typically found participants through car and truck clubs. Court records show that Lopez dismissed 69 DUI cases, 165 other misdemeanors and more than 800 traffic violations prior to his arrest. Lopez altered court records to show that the defendants in the cases had completed their sentences, paid fines or completed community service when they had not.
Federal prosecutors say that Lopez used the money to finance overseas vacations, trips to Las Vegas and to open a Garden Grove restaurant, which he later sold. Another court employee stumbled on to the scheme in 2015 by finding a record that Lopez had altered. That led to a more in-depth investigation, which turned up a series of altered records dating back to 2010. The Orange County court has since called back hundreds of defendants to account for the completion of their original sentences.
Federal officials take bribery cases very seriously. Although bribery of a public official is a violation of state law, systemic crime of this nature is often prosecuted at the federal level. That’s why you need an experienced bribery attorney who can practice in federal courts. Federal bribery sentences can include incarceration of up to 15 years, and apply to any “public official” whether the person occupies an elected position or not.
Robert Helfend has practiced criminal defense exclusively in Southern California for more than 30 years. He takes cases at both the state and federal levels. He will work aggressively to get the charges against you reduced or dropped. He has established an excellent reputation among his peers, and in courtrooms throughout Southern California. He handles all cases personally, so you will work with him directly on your defense.
Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura antitrust/auto theft case.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy Orange County Archives, via Flickr.com