A retired Los Angeles County sheriff’s lieutenant pleaded not guilty Friday to obstruction of justice of charges for allegedly paying for sex at a pair of West Hollywood massage parlors and tipping off an employee about a possible upcoming law enforcement raid.
David Smith, 59, is charged with one felony count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and one misdemeanor count of obstruction of justice. He is due back in court July 23.
Prosecutors contend Smith would claim to be conducting lawful inspections at West Hollywood massage parlors, then paid for sex at two of them between 2016 and 2017. He is also alleged to have received “gifts” from a massage parlor employee, and in exchange, he would check for possible planned raids of the business. Prosecutors said that on one occasion, he warned the woman that law enforcement might be near her business and advised her to close for the evening.
If convicted as charged, Smith faces a possible maximum sentence of three years behind bars.
Smith had been with the department for 30 years. According to the sheriff’s department, he “separated from the department” Sept. 30, 2017.
“When the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau became aware of the allegations, a comprehensive undercover operation was initiated,” according to the sheriff’s department. “During the operation, ICIB investigators obtained information indicating a crime occurred.”
Investigators presented their findings to the District Attorney’s Office for consideration of criminal charges in December, according to the sheriff’s department.