The former chief of a tribal police department in southern California has pleaded guilty to selling $300,000 worth of badges to wealthy Los Angeles residents so they could get concealed weapons permits.
Anthony Reyes Vazquez, 49, admitted he and other officers of the Manzanita Tribal Police Department recruited dozens of affluent Agelenos to join a “VIP Group,” issuing them badges that gave them certain law enforcement privileges but didn’t require them to perform any police work.
VIP for a fee
To join the force, the VIP members were required to pay fees ranging from $5,000 to $100,000, prosecutors said. Many of the members had no or little law enforcement background and many never visited the reservation at all, prosecutors In exchange for paying the fee, the members would be given a badge which purportedly granted them the right to carry a concealed weapon, prosecutors said. Investigators declined to identify the members of the VIP group.
“This defendant sold law enforcement badges and jeopardized public safety,” said Randy Grossman, acting U.S. attorney for the southern district of California. “His manipulative and self-serving ploy also significantly undermined state laws governing the issuance of credentials to carry concealed weapons.”
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