A Santa Ana police officer pleaded guilty Wednesday to accepting $128,000 to shield illegal businesses.
Steven Lopez, 28, of Chino, entered the plea to a federal charge of bribery. He could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in May.
Lopez joined the Police Department in 2016. He has been on paid administrative leave during the investigation.
In his plea deal, Lopez acknowledged that he took money from an unnamed illegal businessman in return for protecting his businesses from being searched or shut down.
In one case, Lopez took a bribe in a meeting at a parking structure across from police headquarters and in another case he accepted a payment while uniformed and on duty in a marked patrol car, prosecutors said.
His attorney, Brian Gurwitz, said that Lopez’s behavior was due to unspecified “serious personal issues that he’s addressing.”
He also said no other Police Department employees were involved in taking bribes.