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A police chief and officers of a rural Central California town have been implicated in a car impound scheme, involving impounding cars belonging to poor Hispanics, and keeping them for themselves when the owners inevitably couldn't pay the fees to reacquire their vehicles.
Yahoo News reports that four officers in the town of King City, including the former chief and acting chief, were arrested on Tuesday in connection with the scheme. Two other officers were also arrested on unrelated charges.
According to ABC News, the officers have all been placed on paid administrative leave.
"There has been a significant breakdown in the internal leadership of the King City Police Department," Monterey County District Attorney Dean Flippo said. "It also appears to me that some officers have dishonored their badge."
According to Flippo, the investigation of the car thefts has been going on since 2012, but there have been allegations of wrongdoing on the part of the King City Police since 2010.
Investigators heard citizens of the community, many who were poor and had difficulty speaking English, voice their concerns at community meetings, saying the police were stealing from them, leaving them helpless to do anything.
The city is more than 87 percent Hispanic, and the scheme was targeted at the poorest residents of the community. Officers would either sell the cars for a profit or just keep them for themselves.
The officers are charged with bribery, accepting a bribe, or embezzlement. Their names are Acting Chief Bruce Edward Miller, former Chief Dominic David Baldiviez, Sgt. Bobby Javier Carrillo and Officer Mario Alonso Mottu Sr.
Carrillo was reportedly the ringleader of the wrongdoings, keeping about one in 15 vehicles he impounded for personal use or sale.
The officers were bailed out of jail hours after being arrested, and denied knowledge of the crimes they're accused of.