A former police officer with the Montebello Police Department pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal bribery charge for accepting at least $14,000 in cash from a drug trafficker in exchange for escorting local drug shipments and using a police database to get information, officials announced.
Rudolph Petersen, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of bribery, the United States Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
During his time as a police officer from December 2018 through August 2020, Petersen solicited and received several cash bribes from a gang member and drug trafficker identified as “Co-Schemer 2,” court documents showed.
Prosecutors said in 2018, “Co-Schemer 2” met with Petersen for dinner and told him he could put Petersen “on his payroll” and gave him $500 through an intermediary.
In another 2018 meeting with “Co-Schemer 2,” Petersen accepted a $10,000 bribe to “escort a vehicle containing a shipment of narcotics and protect if from law enforcement and would be robbers,” documents showed.
According to the plea agreement, three months after the meeting Petersen successfully escorted a white U-haul truck containing what he believed was illegally grown marijuana from Fontana to a location off the 60 Freeway near Rowland Heights.
Peterson was armed at the time and wearing a security guard uniform that resembled an official police uniform. He was given a paper bag filled with $10,000 in cash.
In his plea agreement, Petersen admitted to escorting at least one additional drug shipment for “Co-Schemer 2.”
He also admitted to using a law enforcement database to search for information on a person who “Co-Schemer 2” believed was a “snitch” and allegedly helped intercept a cocaine shipment.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Petersen accepted bribes of $500 to $1,000 for the information he accessed in the database searches.
In September 2020, Petersen was also paid $1,000 to find out if tracking devices found on vehicles that “Co-Schemer 2” and another person used were part of a state or federal law enforcement investigation.
Petersen is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 11, 2022, and faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.