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Huntington Beach officer gets probation for fixing traffic ticket

February 15, 2013 |  2:40 pm

A Huntington Beach police officer was placed on probation Friday after his conviction for conspiring to dismiss a traffic ticket for a woman who promised “a bunch of alcohol” in exchange for his help.

Erik Michael Krause, 44, a 22-year veteran of the Huntington Beach Police Department, was convicted with Garden Grove Officer Michael John Zannitto, 47, of misdemeanor conspiracy to obstruct justice.

A judge on Friday sentenced Krause to probation and 30 days in jail, which was stayed pending completion of community service. Zannitto already is serving the same sentence. 

Prosecutors say Krause ticketed a woman for speeding in November 2011 near a school bus. Later that month, Zannitto met the woman at Knott’s Berry Farm while off duty after learning she worked in the alcohol industry. The officer told the woman he could have her citation dismissed, prosecutors said.

Officials say Zannitto instructed the woman to send him a picture of the citation and told her how to contest the ticket. She sent him the ticket and promised free alcohol in exchange for a dismissal, prosecutors said.

In January, prosecutors said, Zannitto called Huntington Beach police and said the woman was his sister and asked to speak with the officer who issued the ticket.

Zannitto talked with Krause, who promised to “take care of” the ticket, according to prosecutors. Zannitto then texted the woman that the ticket would be taken care of, prosecutors said.

“Please dismiss in the interest of justice. No notes,” Krause wrote on his declaration, according to the district attorney's office. 

A Huntington Beach police lieutenant initiated the investigation, but the district attorney’s office said that because Krause’s declaration was never filed with the court, the woman’s $234-ticket was dismissed.

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-- Richard Winton

Follow Richard Winton (@LACrimes) on Twitter and Google+
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