LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A former Monterey Park police officer convicted of committing crimes against three women during traffic stops, in which he forced them to expose themselves and fondled two of them, was sentenced today to seven years and eight months in state prison.
Superior Court Judge Douglas Sortino also ordered Israel Sanchez, 42, to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
A seven-man, five-woman jury panel deliberated for less than five hours before finding Sanchez guilty on March 12 of all the charges against him: five counts each of sexual battery by restraint and assault under color of authority, three counts of false imprisonment and one count of soliciting a bribe.
Prosecutors said the crimes were committed between July 28 and Aug. 15, 2014, against victims who were 19 to 28 years old at the time.
Deputy District Attorney Hyunah Suh pointed to similar testimony from all three victims.
“They had no motive to come in here and lie,” Suh said, telling jurors the three were “not coming to court because they had a vendetta or some secret agenda.”
Suh said Sanchez “preyed” on women who found themselves in vulnerable circumstances and “needlessly insist(ed) on searches,” even after one had already been conducted.
The prosecutor said Sanchez should have relied on his own advice. He was heard on tape telling one of the women, “Fate should have it that if you’re doing bad things, you’re going to get caught.”
Defense attorney Michael Goldfeder countered that the sexual abuse never took place and suggested that the victims were trying to “get back” at a police officer.
“There is no possible way this officer would ever do those acts,” Goldfeder told the jury.
Three other women testified as character witnesses for Sanchez, whose attorney called him a “decorated Marine” and married father of three children.