Man Denies Creating Phony Fundraiser in Slain Officer's Name

Sami Saeed pleaded not guilty to nine charges against him

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sami Ahmed Saeed, 25, is accused of using a police officer’s death to create a bogus fundraising website. Prosecutors allege he used slain Escondido officer Laura Perez’s name and tragic story to make a quick buck. NBC 7’s Wendy Fry reports on Aug. 1, 2014. (Published Friday, Aug 1, 2014)

     The Escondido man suspected of using a police officer’s death to create a bogus fundraising website has pleaded not guilty to charges against him.

    Sami Ahmed Saeed, 25, was charged with nine felonies Friday after prosecutors say he set up a phony GoFundMe.com site in the name of Officer Laura Perez, whose body was found in a Morena Valley storage unit last week.

    Police say Perez was shot by her husband, Freddy Perez-Rodas, who tried to hide her body and burn down their house to cover the crime.

    Prosecutors say the day after detectives found Perez’s body, Saeed set up a fake website that lists Perez’s daughter and family as the fundraiser’s recipients.

    No one had donated to the account before Saeed was arrested and the GoFundMe website was removed.

    “The administrators at GoFundMe.com indicated that there were other web pages set up by using the same identifiers from Mr. Saeed to illicit donations for a little girl who has cancer, and that little girl is unnamed and that web page has also been taken down,” said Deputy District Attorney Anna Winn.

    A search of Saeed’s apartment turned up stolen credit cards and machine used to make phony ID cards and credit cards, according to police.

    Saeed had denied the allegations against him.

    Escondido Police say the suspect apparently worked for the U.S. military, and his friend from Ohio confirmed that Saeed was an Arabic translator for U.S. troops during the Iraq War.

    After his arraignment Friday, he now faces four counts of identity theft, three counts of passing a fraudulent check, one count of possession of a forged identity and one count of receiving stolen property.

    Saeed is being held in jail on a $250,000 bond.