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Grand jury returns 6-count indictment against LAUSD police officer accused of shooting hoax

May 13, 2011 | 12:17 pm

Lj8tpmnc A Los Angeles Unified schools police officer charged with faking his own shooting, which triggered a massive manhunt, was arraigned Friday after a grand jury indictment alleged he planted evidence, the L.A. County District Attorney’s office announced.

Jeff Stenroos pleaded not guilty before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg to the indictment handed down Thursday that supersedes existing charges and avoids the need for a preliminary hearing.

The indictment includes two new allegations of insurance fraud and planting evidence but does not include a prior charge of perjury.

The indictment charges the 30-year-old school police officer with five felony counts, including insurance fraud, workers’ compensation fraud, preparing a false police report, preparing false documentary evidence and planting false evidence, and one misdemeanor of falsely reporting an emergency.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Paul Nunez told Schnegg the city is seeking $361,289 in restitution, and LAUSD is seeking $58,000 in medical costs. The district is still compiling full restitution costs for keeping students in lock down at eight campuses for up to 10 hours, prosecutors said.

Stenroos allegedly faked the Jan. 19 shooting while on duty at El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills. A good Samaritan spotted Stenroos lying on the ground near his open car door and called for help.

Stenroos allegedly told fellow officers a car-burglary suspect shot him once in the chest as he was patrolling the campus perimeter. More than 550 law enforcement officers throughout Southern California responded and conducted a 10-hour search, shutting down an 8-square-mile area in the Valley.

The indictment charges Stenroos, who was treated and released from Northridge Medical Center the day of the alleged hoax, with insurance fraud for seeking medical treatment for injuries he never sustained, said Jane Robison, a district attorney’s spokeswoman.

The following weekend, Stenroos checked himself in to Henry Mayo Hospital in Santa Clarita for ongoing complaints of pain, she added. An LAPD investigation determined there was no shooting at the school as Stenroos first described and that he allegedly created false evidence when he claimed he was shot.

Schnegg set his bail at $50,000. Stenroos, who is on paid administrative leave from the district, is scheduled to return to Van Nuys Superior Court on May 18 for pretrial. If convicted, Stenroos faces up to five years and eight months in state prison.


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-- Richard Winton

Photo: Los Angeles Unified schools policeman Jeff Stenroos arrives at a Van Nuys courthouse on March 6.