Two former California Highway Patrol officers have been charged with accepting $35,000 in bribes in exchange for falsifying records for exotic “gray market” cars, authorities said.
“CHP officers are charged with keeping our roads and the people of California safe and secure. Any law enforcement officer who abuses that authority for their own personal gain should be held accountable,” said state Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Bribery is a serious crime, and there is no place for these alleged acts in California law enforcement.”
The “gray market” refers to vehicles that are made and imported into the United States from other countries. In many cases, it is illegal to drive these cars in California because they do not meet state safety and/or emission standards, and therefore, cannot be registered.
Accused Men Plead Not Guilty
Jessie Anthony Carrillo and James Yao Kuo pleaded not guilty Monday during their arraignment in Los Angeles County Superior Court on one count each of conspiracy and three counts of accepting a bribe, according to the California Attorney General’s Office.
Kuo’s attorney, Daniel V. Nixon, said his client denies any wrongdoing.
“He flatly rejects the allegations made against him in the complaint and we expect to vigorously defend the case in court in the weeks ahead,” Nixon said in an email.
Carrillo’s attorney, Sam Tyre, said his client looks forward to “the truth coming out.”
“The truth will show Jessie has done nothing wrong and he is not guilty of any charges,” Tyre said in an email.
The charges were filed on Jan. 19 by the state’s Department of Justice, and the former officers surrendered to authorities six days later.
Former Girlfriend Revealed Alleged Scheme
In 2016, the two former officers allegedly conspired to alter the Carfax and DMV documents of two gray market vehicles. In exchange for these acts, they allegedly received $35,000. The allegations were investigated by the California Highway Patrol.
Authorities did not uncover the scheme until 2019, according to court documents, when Kuo’s former girlfriend told the CHP that the two officers had been accepting money to submit false paperwork to the DMV.
Kuo was no longer employed with the CHP as of August 2020, the agency said, and Carrillo was no longer employed as an officer as of January 2020. It was not clear what led to their departures from the highway patrol last year.
Kuo worked out of the East Los Angeles Area office and Carrillo was assigned to the agency’s Southern Division office.
The CHP declined to comment further.
(GV Wire contributed to this article.)