Plea Deal for Fullerton Police Officer Panned by Prosecutors

SANTA ANA (CNS) - A sentence of pre-trial diversion for a Fullerton police officer who lied on a police report about a DUI crash involving a former city manager and the opportunity to expunge the case was met with objections today from the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

Rodger Jeffrey Corbett was sentenced Monday in Orange County Superior Court after prosecutors had charged him with a felony for lying in the report that then-Fullerton City Manager Joe Felz was not intoxicated at the time of the crash, according to a statement Tuesday from the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

Instead of entering a guilty plea, the court offer allows Corbett to complete 80 hours of community service, make a $500 payment and agree to no longer work in law enforcement. If he completes the terms of the deal the case will be removed from his record as if it never happened, the statement said.

A new state law went into effect Jan. 1 giving judges the discretion to put defendants in pre-trial diversion, regardless of prosecution objections.

“As prosecutors, we are filing charges that hold police officers who break the law accountable,'' Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said.

“But those attempts to hold peace officers accountable are handcuffed by efforts by the state Legislature and the bench to downgrade these crimes to a point where it is as if they never happened.

“Law enforcement officers wield incredible power and when they abuse that power and engage in cover-ups and perpetuate different systems of justice for people based on their political connections, they must be held accountable.''

About 1:30 a.m. Nov. 9, 2016, Fullerton police officers responded to a single vehicle crash in a neighborhood north of downtown and found Felz attempting to drive his disabled vehicle away from the scene and officers noted Felz showed symptoms of being intoxicated, the District Attorney's Office said.

Corbett was called in to handle the investigation and after giving Felz a cursory examination, he concluded Felz was not under the influence of alcohol and drove him home. Corbett noted in his police report that he determined Felz was not under the influence, the statement said.

Felz, who retired as city manager in December 2016, was later charged with misdemeanor DUI. He pled guilty in December 2017 to one count of reckless driving and admitted he had been driving under the influence.

Photo: Getty Images

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