A Glendale narcotics detective pleaded guilty to charges of bribery, obstruction of justice and lying to investigators, according to court records obtained Friday.
John Saro Balian, 45, of Seal Beach entered his plea Thursday in Los Angeles federal court and is set for sentencing on Sept. 24. Balian’s plea agreement was filed under seal and a bail hearing is scheduled for Friday afternoon.
Balian — who was previously placed on unpaid leave from the department — made false statements while being questioned by investigators about suspected ties to the Mexican Mafia and Armenian organized crime, according to court documents.
The detective lied about his ties to gang member Jose Loza, described as a Mexican Mafia member and shot caller for the Canta Ranas street gang, court papers show.
Loza, who is facing federal racketeering charges, communicated with Balian, who used a so-called burner phone to discuss criminal activities.
Prosecutors said that Balian lied to authorities about getting money from an informant and “relationships with several Hispanic gang members.”
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 document states.
In October 2017, Balian lied about having met Loza, the document said.
“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,” U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna said previously. “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.”