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Former Deputies Arrested For Allegedly Planting Guns At Pot Shop

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An L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. patrol car (Photo by KingoftheHill. via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Two former L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. deputies were arrested and charged after they were accused of planting firearms at a Westchester pot dispensary so they could justify arresting two men.

The L.A. County District Attorney's Office announced today in a press release that they charged Julio Cesar Martinez, 39, and Anthony Manuel Paez, 32. They were charged with one felony count each of conspiracy to obstruct justice and peace officer altering evidence. Martinez had a couple of more charges tacked onto his record: two counts of perjury and one count of filing a false report. The two were arrested on April 18.

The former deputies wrote in a report that they had been patrolling West 84th Place on Aug. 24, 2011 when they saw a suspect enter a marijuana dispensary. Martinez and Paez claimed they followed him inside and saw a gun tossed near a trash can as well as another firearm on a desk next to ecstasy pills. They arrested two men: Antonio Rhodes for possession of an unregistered firearm and Johnny Yang for possession of a controlled substance while armed with a firearm.

Martinez claimed in his report that he saw Rhodes do a “hand-to-hand narcotics transaction and reach for a firearm in his front shorts pocket area," according to a criminal complaint against the deputies, KTLA reported.

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Rhodes and Yang both said they were falsely arrested. The complaint added that Paez had turned off the shop's video surveillance camera before planting the guns on the desk and taking another gun from the drawer and putting it on a chair.

LASD’s Internal Criminal Investigation Bureau later investigated the case in 2012 and found a video recorded in the dispensary that was "inconsistent with statements made by the deputies in their reports," according to the D.A. Office's press release.

KTLA pointed out that it wasn't clear why the two deputies were patrolling in an area that is normally overseen by the LAPD.

Martinez and Paez were released from jail on $50,000 bail each and will face a judge in court for their arraignment on June 17.