New Witness: Officer Fixed Ticket, Called Me 'Cute'

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    NBCSanDiego

    A former CHP officer accused of fixing a speeding ticket in return for sexual favors is expected to take the stand Wednesday.

    On Tuesday, two new witnesses testified that Abram Carabajal, 53, gave them his phone number after being pulled over for speeding.

    “I asked him how do I go about the court process and stuff, because it’s been a while, and so that's when he gave me his business card and said to call him,” Samantha West said.

    CHP Sex Bribery Trial

    [DGO] CHP Sex Bribery Trial
    A former CHP officer had a history of inappropriate contacts with female motorists

    Carabajal asked for West’s ticket to be dismissed in court and later approached her in the hallway, she said.

    “He told me I don’t have a ticket anymore,” West said. “He said I looked nice today and that I was cute.”

    The 26-year veteran offered to fix tickets for female motorists if they met with him privately, according to prosecutors.

    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.

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