KING CITY, CA (KSBW/CNN) - Six police officers and a civilian were arrested in a corruption case Tuesday.
"This is not a pleasant time for any of us in law enforcement, accusations of bribes and embezzlement within the King City Police Department reaching the highest levels of the force, a corruption case that involved the most vulnerable in society," Monterey County District Attorney Dean Flippo said.
"And these are the people who are disadvantaged, not always English speaking and they said something that really resonated with me – ‘The police they are taking our property, they're taking our cars, they take our money and we can do nothing about that,'" he said.
Flippo described it as an "organized scheme" in which those arrested targeted and impounded the cars of Spanish speakers. Investigators say if there was a ring leader, Sgt. Bobby Carrillo was it, impounding dozens of cars and directing the business to Miller's towing, a tow yard owned by acting Chief Bruce Miller's brother.
"For every 10 to 15 vehicles that were impounded by Sgt. Carrillo, he would receive a free vehicle for himself or whatever he wanted to do with it," Flippo said.
Miller became acting chief after Nick Baldiviez retired; both implicated, along with four officers, in the free cars for cops scheme. Flippo said hundreds of cars changed hands and possibly sold for thousands of dollars by the officers. Flippo said those arrested dishonored their badge. And the case, he said, highlighted the lack of leadership in the department.
"The citizens of King City deserve better than what they have been receiving, and it is my hope that this will be the first step in addressing issues," Flippo said.
The FBI, the sheriff's department and the DA's office all worked together in making the arrests.
Investigators say those arrested were cooperative and taken in without incident.
The seven were booked into the Monterey County Jail and were released within six hours after posting bail.
Some are expected to make their first court appearances next Monday.
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