Police Officers Plead Not Guilty to Vehicle Theft

February 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Attorneys for two Fresno Police Officers accused of stealing a car proclaimed their innocence Tuesday at their first court appearance.Hector Becerra and Paul Cervantes entered not guilty plead. The two men were arrested last month on a felony theft charge. After a brief hearing, one of their attorneys criticized the investigators who handled the case.

Hector Becerra was followed by Paul Cervantes. Both Fresno Police Officers entered court. The judge denied cameras inside the hearing. Becerra and Cervantes bailed out of jail last month. They are accused of misusing a confidential informant to steal a car from Humberto Quintero a suspected drug dealer. Officer Cervantes is represented by Terry Bowman. Bowman said, "Paul Cervantes is a veteran of the Marine Corp. He has served the Fresno Police Department for many years. He's veteran. He's been dedicated and decorated officer."

Bowman aimed her next comments at investigators who arrested the two officers. Bowman said, "The fact that he has worked so hard to put these dirt bags away, and they have rewarded him with taking the word of these dirt bags over him is an outrage."

Cervantes and Becerra worked in the department's major narcotics unit. Their arrests eventually led Police Chief Jerry Dyer to temporarily disband the team. Becerra's attorney said they haven't seen the evidence investigators collected. Carl Faller represents Officer Becerra, "He is adamant about his innocence. He is looking forward to being vindicated as the process moves forward."

Both men left court after pleading not guilty. They are now waiting for their case to inch closer to trial.

Cervantes and Becerra are still Fresno Police Officers. They are on paid administrative leave. They return to court later in February. If convicted, they could face up to three years in prison.

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