Former CHP officer who dismissed ticket for sex sentenced - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Former CHP officer who dismissed ticket for sex sentenced to 2 years in prison

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Abram Carabajal Abram Carabajal
Shirin Zarrindej Shirin Zarrindej

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A retired CHP officer convicted of bribery and perjury for dismissing a speeding ticket against a woman in exchange for sex was sentenced Friday to two years in prison.

A jury found Abram Carabajal guilty on June 21.

The 53-year-old defendant could have received up to four years and eight months in prison from Judge Lisa Foster.

"I hope you will forgive me," Carabajal said in court. "I had no right to do what I did. It's my fault. No one else's."

"I want to say I'm sorry to the public," the married father of five added, "because I understand the position I had was one of trust."

"Mr. Carabajal took an oath... he put on a badge," said Superior Court Judge Lisa Foster, before Friday's sentencing. "And he violated both the oath and the honor of the badge."

The motorist who Carabajal pulled over, Shirin Zarrindej, was acquitted of subornation of perjury and bribery of a witness. Jurors deadlocked on a charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice against both defendants.

Last month, the 50-year-old Zarrindej pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of being accessory to a crime and was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to do 100 hours of volunteer work.  

Zarrindej, a single mother with a young daughter, said that Carabajal told her he was separated when they first met on Interstate 5 on March 12, 2008.

Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Dort said in his closing argument last week that Carabajal used the speeding ticket as a kind of "bait" in an attempt to foster a relationship with Zarrindej, who was pulled over on southbound Interstate 5 near Oceanside.

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.

"The CHP had been watching him and had told him not to do this exact thing for years," Dort said.

Dort added 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. "He (Carabajal) was at the end of his career. This was just another way for him to enjoy himself."

On the witness stand, Carabajal denied dismissing Zarrindej's ticket in exchange for sex. But he admitted developing a friendly relationship with her and driving to her Encino home, where they had sex.

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.

The next day in court, Carabajal said he told the judge he didn't receive the subpoena for Zarrindej's case and asked that the case 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.

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.

One of Carabajal's victims, Alyssa Oke, addressed Carabajal before he was led away in handcuffs. 

"This entire event has extremely affected my view of the power of a police officer," she said in court. "Not a time that I drive by an officer, a motorcycle cop, any of them on the freeway, do I not think of this situation with you, sir."

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