MENLO PARK (CBS 5) — A veteran Bay Area police officer charged with soliciting a prostitute while on duty is back on the job, after prosecutors dropped the case.
Authorities said the charges stemmed from an incident in February 2011. According to the police report, officers tracked down a wanted prostitute to a Motel 6 in Sunnyvale. When the officers moved in, the prostitute answered the door in a cat suit, with $20 bills stuffed into her cleavage. Officers also found Officer Jeffrey Vasquez, a member of the Menlo Park Police Department.
The report said officers discovered Vasquez in the bathroom, on his knees and completely nude.
According to the report, the prostitute told officers the two had found each other on an online directory for escorts with ads for sexual services. The report said Vasquez admitted he was at the motel for sex, but officers arrived before anything happened.
“It looked, it was a strong case. It was a very strong case,” said Santa Clara County Assistant District Attorney Rob Baker.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office charged Vasquez with a misdemeanor count of soliciting prostitution. But the star witness, a Sunnyvale police officer, could not testify because of a serious family medical emergency. The case was dismissed.
“While it may be frustrating on one level, I have a duty as a prosecutor to only prosecute cases I can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. And if I don’t have a witness, or I can’t prove a case, I have to dismiss, we can’t go forward with it,” Baker said.
Vasquez was serving a warrant on a sexual assault case when he “had an hour to kill,” according to the report, and called the prostitute.
The Menlo Park Police Department launched an internal affairs investigation. But since the criminal charge was dismissed, Vasquez successfully appealed.
Late last year, the 24-year veteran was back on the job, making $109,000 a year.
“When a criminal case is dismissed against a law enforcement official, it’s natural for someone to ask if the officer or the cop was getting special treatment. And that’s just not the case, in this case,” Baker said.
The story was first reported by the Atherton Almanac newspaper.
Vasquez, the Menlo Park Police Department, and the Menlo Park city manager, did not return CBS 5’s requests for comment as of Tuesday night.
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