A former Orange County sheriff’s deputy pleaded guilty Friday to a criminal charge connected to a 2018 incident in which she took a suspect’s credit card during her training, prosecutors said.
Angelina Cortez, 41, entered the plea on one misdemeanor count of filing a false police report. The crime was originally charged as a felony, but an O.C. Superior Court judge reduced the charge Friday despite prosecutors’ objection, the O.C. District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
Cortez was immediately sentenced to 120 hours of community service and one years’ informal probation. She would have faced up to three years in jail if they had not reduced the charge, the DA’s office said.
The incident occurred on Nov. 19, 2018, the day she was assigned to a training officer, after the pair responded to a report of a man stealing wine and batteries from a 7-Eleven in San Clemente, prosecutors said.
Cortez was accused of taking a credit card from the man identified as the suspect and tucking it in her uniform shirt pocket. She later gave the card to her son, who used it.
Prosecutors say the card was never submitted as evidence.
“The public must be able to trust that law enforcement officers will carry out their duties lawfully,” O.C. DA Todd Spitzer said in a statement. “When the law is broken by the very people who are entrusted to enforce it, the integrity of the entire criminal justice system is compromised.”