A former Montebello police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to accepting at least $14,000 in bribes to escort illegal drug shipments and search a law enforcement database for the benefit of a narcotics trafficker.
Rudolph Petersen, 34, entered his plea in Los Angeles federal court to a bribery charge, specifically bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds. Sentencing is set for Jan. 11.
Petersen’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Petersen received payments from the unidentified gang member/narcotics trafficker from December 2018 to August 2020, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
According to his plea agreement, Petersen had dinner with the narcotics trafficker in mid-2018 during which the trafficker stated that he could put the defendant “on his payroll.”
At the end of the dinner, the trafficker gave Petersen $500 through an intermediary and told him that the conspirators wanted to “juice (him) up,” according to the document obtained by City News Service.
Around Christmas the same year, the trafficker contacted Petersen to “discuss some jobs” and offered him $10,000 to escort a shipment of drugs to make sure it arrived at its intended destination, the ex-officer acknowledged.
The trafficker told Petersen to wear his police uniform, bring a gun and use an unmarked police vehicle to escort the shipment, which the defendant believed would contain marijuana.
In March 2019, Petersen drove to the trafficker’s home near Rowland Heights in his personal vehicle, which he equipped with takedown lights to create the appearance that the vehicle was an unmarked police car, according to the plea agreement.
Armed with a weapon and wearing a security guard uniform that resembled a police uniform, the defendant met a white U-Haul truck in Fontana and successfully escorted the truck to a location near the Pomona (60) Freeway, the document states.
Petersen admitted returning to the trafficker’s home, where he picked up a paper bag filled with $10,000.
Shortly after another escort job, the trafficker told Petersen that law enforcement had recently intercepted one of his cocaine shipments, and he suspected that someone involved in the transaction was a “snitch,” according to the plea agreement, in which Petersen admitted to agreeing to access sensitive law enforcement databases on the trafficker’s behalf.
Each time he ran the names through the database and reported the results to the trafficker, Petersen was paid $500 to $1,000, he said.