A Palmdale sheriff’s deputy who lives in Valencia pleaded not guilty Wednesday to rape and bribery charges for crimes he allegedly committed while on duty.
Jose Rigoberto Sanchez, 28, of Valencia, was arrested and booked at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station on July 30.
The charges included sexual penetration under the color of authority, rape under fear or duress and soliciting a bribe from alleged victims.
He will be back in court Sept. 16 for a preliminary hearing, where a judge will decide if there’s enough evidence to hold Sanchez over for trial.
After an extensive investigation by the District Attorney’s Justice System Integrity Division, Sanchez was charged with soliciting a bribe from a female driver he pulled over in Palmdale while on duty on Sept. 22, 2010. Sanchez allegedly offered not to arrest her on an outstanding warrant in exchange for sex.
Two nights later, he pulled over another female on suspicion of DUI and allegedly solicited a bribe in the form of sexual activity.
Sanchez, a seven-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was most recently assigned to patrol at the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station.
The six-month ICIB investigation into the 2010 incident began after investigators received a tip from an informant, according to a Sheriff’s Department statement.
The case was turned over to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in January of 2011.
“The sheriff takes it very seriously,” Whitmore said. “We were the ones who instigated the investigation. We pursued it aggressively because it was a heinous act.”
Sanchez was relieved of duty with pay after the alleged incident in 2010, and was relieved of duty without pay when he was booked.
Sanchez is being held on $1.4 million bail for 11 felony charges.
The case is being prosecuted by deputy district attorney Rosa Alarcon.