SALINAS (CBS SF) — A former King City police sergeant pleaded no contest Thursday to charges in a car towing scheme he led that largely victimized low-income Hispanics, according to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office.
Bobby Carrillo pleaded no contest to two counts of bribery and a perjury count. He was scheduled to face trial on the charges on March 21, prosecutors said.READ MORE: 2 Killed in Separate Shootings Saturday in San Francisco Potrero Hill Neighborhood
Carrillo and five other officers were arrested in February 2014 after an investigation into complaints of criminal acts in the Police Department.
The six officers were either fired or resigned from the department, prosecutors said.
The district attorney’s office began looking into the officers in 2013 based on the public alleging criminal acts within the department.
The investigation uncovered an illegal bribery scheme led by Carrillo, who breached the department’s rotating car tow policy, which requires officers to send cars equally between four towing companies, according to prosecutors.
Instead, Carrillo sent 87 percent of cars to Miller’s towing, which was owned by Brian Miller, prosecutors said.
The men agreed that Carrillo would be bribed with one vehicle of his choice for free in exchange for every 10 cars sent to the Miller’s towing yard, prosecutors said.
People whose cars were towed by Carrillo said he pulled them over without probable cause, according to prosecutors.
Most of the victims were Hispanic with low-income backgrounds that prevented them from getting their cars back due to mounting towing and daily storage fees, prosecutors said.
“Bobby Carrillo abused his police powers for personal profit by targeting vulnerable members of the community who could not afford to regain their cars and who were unlikely to complain to authorities,” District Attorney Dean Flippo said in a statement.READ MORE: Saturday Shooting in Sunnyvale Kills 1; Police Arrest Suspect
The cars were either sold before the deadline to remit fees or sent to Carrillo, according to prosecutors.
Over the course of the scheme, Carrillo impounded more than 200 cars and two other sergeants impounded no more than a dozen, prosecutors said.
Miller will be sentenced on April 4 on felony charges of bribery and grand theft, which he pleaded guilty to last March, prosecutors said.
Miller’s brother, former acting police Chief Bruce Miller, was sentenced in September for allowing the illegal scheme to continue under his leadership, according to prosecutors.
Bruce Miller also told the DMV that he paid money for an impounded car he received from Carrillo, prosecutors said.
An officer who was set to testify in Carrillo’s trial said the former sergeant towed so many cars that “on many nights Main Street was lit up like a Christmas tree,” according to prosecutors.
The perjury charge stemmed from false title transfers Carrillo filed with the DMV for claims that he paid in cash for the cars, prosecutors said.
Carrillo is scheduled to be sentenced on April 29 and faces up to two years in state prison, according to prosecutors.
In a statement, Carrillo’s lawyer Susan Chapman said, “Mr. Carrillo is sincerely remorseful for the damage he has caused any victims, the citizens of King City, The King City Police Department and his family. It is our hope that the process of healing can now begin.”MORE NEWS: Police Arrest Teen Suspect for Friday-Evening Homicide in SF Excelsior District