A former police officer in California took a plea deal and admitted to accepting thousands of dollars in bribes from a drug trafficker in exchange for supplying information on possible law enforcement informants and helping to shepherd narcotics shipments, federal prosecutors said.
Rudolph Petersen, 34, who had a four-year career with the Montebello Police Department, pleaded guilty to a single-count bribery charge.
According to his plea agreement, prosecutors said, Petersen “solicited and received numerous cash bribes from a gang member and drug trafficker” totaling at least $14,000 between December 2018 and August 2020.
The scheme began in mid-2018 when the drug trafficker and Petersen had dinner and the co-schemer said he could put Petersen “on his payroll,” and, through an intermediary, the trafficker gave Petersen $500, prosecutors said.
The pair met up again at the end of 2018. “During that meeting,” prosecutors said, the trafficker “offered – and Petersen agreed to accept – a $10,000 bribe to escort a vehicle containing a shipment of narcotics and protect it from law enforcement and would-be robbers.”
Three months later, prosecutors said, Petersen was armed and dressed in a security guard uniform “that resembled an official police uniform” when he “successfully escorted a white U-Haul truck containing what Petersen believed was illegally grown marijuana” to a location off a California road.
The trafficker then gave Petersen a paper bag filled with $10,000 in cash. Petersen, prosecutors said, admitted he also escorted “at least one additional drug shipment” for the trafficker.
In addition to accepting bribes, Peterson also admitted he accessed a law enforcement database for $500 to $1,000 per search to look up information, including about a person his co-schemer, the trafficker, believed was a “snitch” who worked with authorities to intercept a cocaine shipment, prosecutors said.
Petersen is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 11, 2022. He facesface a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in a federal prison.