Officer Tried 'Sex or Ticket' Before: DA

By Paul Krueger and R. Stickney
|  Monday, Jun 7, 2010  |  Updated 11:14 AM PDT
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Officer Tried 'Sex or Ticket' Before: DA

Travis MacKenzie

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A former California Highway Patrol officer, accused of fixing a speeding ticket in return for sex, allegedly made the same offer to at least three other women.

Abram Carabajal, 53, faces five years and four months in prison if convicted of bribery, perjury and conspiracy to obstruct justice charges.

Carabajal made a traffic stop on March 12, 2008 and cited 47-year old Shirin Zarrindej for speeding.

During the three and a half months between the citation and the hearing where the ticket was dismissed, the pair exchanged 40  phone calls and spent more than 14 hours talking.

On July 1, 2008, the ticket was dismissed on Carabajal's request, prosecutors said.

The former CHP officer and Zarrindej then drove separately to the Guesthouse Inn in Oceanside. The desk clerk describes them as walking arm-in-arm and looking "cutesy lovey dovey,” according to investigators.

Zarrindej faces similar charges of bribery, perjury and conspiracy to obstruct justice. In 1998 Zarrindej offered a $2000 bribe to another law enforcement officer to fix a ticket, prosecutors alleged Monday. That bribe was never paid.

Prosecutor Jeff Dort says Carabajal offered to "work something out" before with three other women, one of whom complained about Carabajal's overtures. At least one of them will testify in this trial.

Carabajal's lawyer says Carabajal only dismissed a ticket, which is not a crime. He also said Carabajal really had romantic feelings for Zarrindej which maybe inappropriate but was not illegal.

Zirrandej's lawyer says Carabajal tried to pick up other women this way. But Zirrandej, unlike the others, was in love with Carabajal. And the "meeting" at the hotel was not the only time the got together.

So she did not commit any crimes.

Before the trial even began, the judge replaced one juror after comments were overheard between jurors. One of the jurors says she overheard another juror tell a third juror that Shirin Zarrindej looked very emotional and upset during jury selection on Friday. After much debate, the judge decided to remove one juror and replace her with an alternate.

The judge discussed this with the jurors, and reminded them they must not discuss the case until deliberations, but it did not delay the trial.

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