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Ex-LAPD Officer Sentenced to Prison After Lake Elsinore Explosion Revealed Drug Lab

A former Los Angeles police officer was sentenced to five years in prison months after a garage explosion revealed a makeshift drug lab, officials announced on Monday.

Joseph Jay Spadafore, a 64-year-old Menifee resident who served as an LAPD officer from 1976 to 1991, was accused of converting a Lake Elsinore house into a drug lab.

He pleaded not guilty, court records showed. In March, a jury found him guilty of maintaining drug-involved premises, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Around midnight on Nov. 3, 2017, Spadafore and his neighbors called authorities about an explosion, the agency said.

Firefighters arrived to a garage swallowed by flames. Spadafore was the only one on the scene.

Later, officials found and confiscated at least 22 propane tanks in the garage, dozens of containers filled with extracted THC, jars of THC powder, butane and trash bags filled with marijuana, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Authorities discovered a total of more than 28 liters of hashish oil containing THC, scattered in nearly every room of the house, according to the agency. Officials estimated the drugs to be worth between $300,000 to $500,000.

Prosecutors said the only room apparently occupied was the master bedroom, where Spadafore kept personal belongings such as his mail and two firearms, one loaded and tucked underneath his pillow.

The owner of the house believed that a different man was living at the residence, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. Spadafore claimed he only needed a place to sleep and that he  was just “crashing” at the home.

Spadafore’s lack of remorse for not warning first responders about the highly flammable materials before they entered the property factored into the sentencing, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.