A Glendale police detective suspected of having ties to organized crime was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of lying to federal agents.
Detective John Saro Balian, 45, was taken into custody without incident at his Seal Beach home, according to Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Balian allegedly made false statements while being questioned by investigators about suspected ties to the Mexican Mafia and Armenian organized crime. He is expected to appear Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Mrozek said.
A complaint filed Monday and unsealed following Balian’s arrest alleges that Balian repeatedly “made false statements and misrepresentations about his links to criminal figures” while being interviewed by several law enforcement agencies during a six-month period last year.
Balian allegedly lied about his ties to gang member Jose Loza, described as a Mexican Mafia member and shot caller for the Canta Ranas street gang. Loza, who is facing federal racketeering charges, communicated with Balian, who used a so-called burner phone to discuss criminal activities, investigators allege. He is also suspected of lying to federal investigators “about accepting money to locate individuals who may have been associated with a burglary at the offices of a convicted felon who later became an informant,” according to Mrozek.
“According to the (complaint) affidavit, not only did the informant report paying Balian to locate two men who may have stolen property from the informant’s office, Balian sought to obtain information about one of the men from a deputy United States marshal, and text messages between the informant and Balian documented the arrangement.”
Balian is also accused of lying to authorities about getting money from the informant and “relationships with several Hispanic gang members,” according to prosecutors.
Balian not only knew Hispanic gang members, including Loza, he also texted them, provided them pre-paid cellular phones, and met with them in person, the affidavit states.
In October 2017 Balian allegedly lied about having met Loza, the complaint alleges.
“Cases involving corrupt public officials — and particularly those involving crimes allegedly committed by police officers — are among the most difficult and troubling matters we see,” said United States Attorney Nicola T. Hanna. “We rely on law enforcement officers to uphold their oaths to faithfully serve their communities. If the allegations in this case are proven, this police officer provided meaningful support to criminal enterprises, and his attempts to cover up his associations served to obstruct justice.”
Balian faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison if convicted as charged.
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