SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An Encino woman found innocent of bribing a CHP officer by offering sex to get her speeding ticket dismissed pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor charge of being an accessory to a crime.
A jury in June deadlocked on a charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice against Shirin Zarrindej, 50, and retired CHP Officer Abram Carabajal, 53.
Carabajal was convicted of bribery and perjury for dismissing the ticket against the woman in exchange for sex and faces nearly five years in prison when he is sentenced Oct. 28.
Zarrindej -- who was also acquitted of perjury -- pleaded guilty today to the lesser offense and prosecutors dismissed the felony conspiracy count against both defendants.
Judge Lisa Foster immediately sentenced Zarrindej to three years probation and ordered her to perform 100 hours of volunteer work.
In return for Zarrindej's guilty plea, Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Dort said his office agreed not to file more charges based on new allegations of bribery against her.
The attorney for Zarrindej, Sherry Stone, said earlier that her client believed she was in a relationship with Carabajal and thought she was in love.
Stone said there was no "meeting of the minds" to get the speeding ticket dismissed.
Zarrindej, testified during the trial that Carabajal told her he was separated when they first met during a traffic stop on southbound Interstate 5 near Oceanside on March 12, 2008.
Dort said in his closing argument that Carabajal -- a married father of five -- used the speeding ticket as a kind of "bait" in an attempt to foster a relationship with Zarrindej.
Carabajal told the woman, "Maybe we can work something out," after writing the ticket, Dort said.
Four other women testified during the trial that the 26-year CHP veteran said similar things and gave them his phone number after stopping them for speeding on the same stretch of highway.
The CHP had warned Carabajal to stop trying to foster relationships through tickets, the prosecutor said.
"You can't go around the justice system using your ticket book to meet people," Dort told the jury.
Dort said Carabajal's goal with Zarrindej was sex and her goal was to get out of the ticket.
"Tickets are a dime a dozen," the prosecutor said. "(Carabajal) was at the end of his career. This was just another way for him to enjoy himself."
Carabajal and Zarrindej engaged in the alleged conspiracy "because they thought they could," Dort said.
On the witness stand, Carabajal denied asking a judge to dismiss Zarrindej's ticket in exchange for sex. But he admitted developing a friendly relationship with her and having sex with her in her Encino home.
On June 30, 2008 -- the day before the speeding ticket was to go to court -- Carabajal said he reserved a room at a hotel in Oceanside to celebrate Zarrindej's birthday.
He said that the next day in court, he told the judge he didn't receive the subpoena for Zarrindej's case and asked that it be dismissed.
Carabajal said he meant to say he didn't have the subpoena with him, but misspoke in court.
The ex-officer said he didn't take a bribe from Zarrindej because she told him he had to pay her back for the hotel room.
Carabajal said he left court and Zarrindej followed him to the hotel.
Once there, Zarrindej asked, "Do you really want to do this?" Carabajal testified.
Carabajal said he spent some time in a room with Zarrindej, then went back to court.
After court, Carabajal said he picked up some candy and roses for Zarrindej and took it to the room.
Once there, Zarrindej told him that officers had paid her a visit.
"I was very upset," he testified. "I had a sinking feeling that I was being investigated and betrayed by my department."
Carabajal said he left the hotel immediately and never spoke to Zarrindej again. He said he retired from the CHP on July 3, 2008, two days after the rendezvous at the hotel.
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