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Deputy lied after taking marijuana from suspect, authorities say

June 7, 2012 |  3:23 pm

The Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy arrested last week on suspicion of drug possession had allegedly taken the drugs from a suspect he arrested while on patrol, then falsified his report to omit the fact that he had taken the hash and marijuana, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman said.

Deputy Rafael Zelaya, 35, was new to the department's East Los Angeles Station at the time of the incident. He was on routine patrol when he made the stop. After officials got a tip, they launched an investigation, finding  the hash and marijuana at the deputy’s home, said department spokesman Steve Whitmore.

Investigators believe the incident is isolated, Whitmore said.

Zelaya has been relieved of duty without pay. He’s facing multiple criminal charges, including drug possession and preparing a false police report. “This could lead to his termination,” Whitmore said.

A spokesman for the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office, which is handling Zelaya’s prosecution, said the deputy had not yet entered a plea.


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-- Robert Faturechi