Verdicts In for "Sex or Ticket" Trial

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCSanDiego

    Jurors reached a verdict in the case of a former California Highway Patrol officer accused of having sex with a female motorist in exchange for getting the woman's ticket dismissed.

    The jury convicted former CHP officer Abram Carabajal on bribery and perjury charges while acquitting co-defendant Shirin Zarrindej of both those counts.  The jury deadlocked 11-1 on the conspiracy charge against both defendants.

    Carabajal cited the 49-year-old motorist for speeding in March, 2008, on Interstate 5 near Oceanside.

    During the trial, prosecutor Jeff Dort told the jury that Carabajal struck up a conservation with the driver, 49-year-old Zarrindej, that led to numerous phone calls between the two.

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    When Carabajal's bosses learned about those conversations, they opened an investigation. An undercover officer was in court in Vista, when Carabajal told a judge to dismiss that speeding ticket.

    Investigators then followed Carabajal to an Oceanside hotel, and took photos of him and Zarrindej entered a room.

    Prosecutor Jeff Dort says the couple had sex that day, as part of a bribery scheme that caused Carabajal to have the ticket dismissed.

    Both the retired officer and the woman testified in their own defense.

    They told the jury they were in love, and that having sex that day, and on other occasions, had nothing to do with the ticket dismissal.

    "Never in a million years, never," Zarrindej said last Friday, in response to a question about whether she traded sex for the ticket dismissal.

    Jurors agreed and found Zarrindej not guilty.

    "This was nothing but love. It was love. Justice was served. I am not guilty," Zarrindej said outside court.

    Outside court, Carabajal's wife angrily told Zarrindej, "You did it to him. You told me on the phone [that you did it]."

    Zarrindej told her "He is older than me."

    Carabajal's wife, who was crying in court, said quietly, "There is no justice. There is no justice."

    Carabajal also insisted that he didn't get the ticket dismissed because Zarrindej had sex with him.

    And the former officer denied having a pattern of inappropriate contacts with attractive, mostly young, female motorists.

    Several of those women testified that Carabajal struck up personal conversations with them after stopping them or speeding or other infractions. Those women said Carabajal commented on their appearance, and gave him his phone number, offering possible help in "working out" the ticket.

    "He also explained that perhaps he could miss court that day, and ticket would be dismissed," said Alyssa Oke, who testified on the first day of trial. She and other women testified that Carabajal's behavior seemed strange, and made them feel uncomfortable.

    But when he testified, Carabajal said he never acted inappropriately, and didn't try to develop a personal or sexual relationship with the women.

    "My job is at times very boring," he told the jury. "I do strike up conversations with both men and woman at stops. I am not flirting with them."

    Prosecutors asked that Carabajal be put in jail pending sentencing but the judge ruled he can remain free since there was no evidence that he would flee. Carabajal was ordered to turn in his personal firearms and ammunition immediately.

    Carabajal will be sentenced on Sept. 10 at 1:30 p.m. Carabajal faces up to 4 years 8 months.

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