Federal prosecutors dismissed the remaining two counts of making false statements against a Pomona police sergeant who was previously acquitted of an obstruction-of-justice charge stemming from a probe into a teenager’s violent arrest, a defense attorney said Tuesday.
Sgt. Michael Neaderbaomer — the third Pomona police officer to be tried in Los Angeles federal court in connection with the case — was originally charged with obstruction along with two counts of lying to the FBI. Last week, a jury acquitted him of the first count and deadlocked in favor of acquittal on the remaining charges.
At a hearing Monday before U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez, federal prosecutors dismissed the two lying counts.
Neaderbaomer’s attorney, Vicki Podberesky, said the officer is “relieved and thrilled that it’s over. It was a very trying experience. He’s happy that the jury was able to see clearly what the evidence was and came to the correct verdict.”
Neaderbaomer was accused of trying to dissuade the teen’s mother from pursuing an internal police investigation into the arrest of her son. Prosecutors alleged that the lawman falsely told Erain Aguilar that he had video footage of her son punching an officer. Prosecutors also claimed the sergeant falsely insisted that if the teen wished to pursue a complaint for excessive force, the then-16-year-old boy would have to meet by himself with police officials for a videotaped interview.
The false statements counts stemmed from interviews with the FBI in which Neaderbaomer allegedly denied his earlier exchanges with the mother, who works as a dispatcher with the Irwindale Police Department.
Podberesky successfully argued during trial that the sergeant did not intend to lie and truly believed he had video of Christian Aguilar punching an officer during the encounter in September 2015 at the Pomona Fairplex during the Los Angeles County Fair.
Podberesky told the jury that when Neaderbaomer spoke to the FBI in May 2016 and said that he did not recall telling Erain Aguilar that he had video of her son punching an officer, the sergeant was relying on his distant memory of the exchange.
The trouble for Neaderbaomer began on Sept. 24, 2015, when the teen’s mother walked into the department to file a complaint on behalf of her son. Weeks later, she received a call from Neaderbaomer in which the Internal Affairs Department sergeant allegedly tried to talk her out of pursuing the investigation into the violent encounter.
“Instead of encouraging her and her son to come forward to share their side of the story in a safe and neutral environment, defendant did the opposite,” the government alleged in its trial memo.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Frances Lewis claimed in her opening statement that Neaderbaomer left the mother a series of voicemails in which he falsely told her that neither she nor her attorney would be allowed to attend an internal affairs interview with her son.
Two other Pomona officers — Chad Jensen and Prince Hutchinson — were charged with Neaderbaomer in 2017. But Gutierrez severed Neaderbaomer’s case from that of his colleagues partly because he did not participate in the arrest.
In January, Jensen and Hutchinson were acquitted in a retrial of charges stemming from the violent encounter. The first trial ended last October with jurors deadlocked 11-1 in favor of guilt on all counts.
Two years ago, the city of Pomona paid Christian Aguilar $500,000 to settle a civil lawsuit over the encounter.
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