LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A former Long Beach police detective convicted of conspiring to obstruct justice for leaking details of two investigations -- including a murder probe -- to a reputed gang member was sentenced today to 80 hours of community service and two years probation.
Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench refused to reduce Yvonne Robinson's conviction from a felony to a misdemeanor, but indicated she might consider the defense's request in the future.
“This case just saddens me,'' the judge said, noting that a “career that was sought-after has been destroyed by Ms. Robinson's own conduct.''
The downtown Los Angeles jury deliberated about a day before convicting Robinson, 50, on Aug. 3 of conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Robinson's attorney, Case Barnett, told the judge that his client “understands the gravity of the situation,'' but said he didn't believe there was any “malicious intent'' to aid a gang.
Deputy District Attorney Arisa Mattson countered that Robinson “did lie on the stand'' and urged the judge to “hold her accountable for her conduct in this case.''
Robinson -- whose employment police say was terminated in March 2013 -- was charged in December 2013 along with the alleged gang member, Prentice Jones, who police said was her brother-in-law's brother.
Jones pleaded no contest in December 2017 to conspiring to obstruct justice and was sentenced to three years probation, 15 days of community service and two days in jail, according to court records.
“She agreed to give confidential information to a gang member,'' the prosecutor said in her closing argument.
The deputy district attorney told jurors Robinson “betrayed'' not only the Long Beach Police Department but the community, and allowed a local gang to “stay one step ahead of the Long Beach Police Department's investigation.''
Robinson's attorney had urged the jury to acquit his client, who testified in her own defense. Barnett noted that Robinson was making $100,000 a year along with benefits and retirement and questioned what motive she would have to provide information to gang members.
Of a former colleague's testimony that he figured out years later that Jones was the young man Robinson had showed him a photo of and said she was “messing around with'' in an apparent reference to a sexual relationship, Barnett called it “desperate because the prosecution can't prove their case.''
“It doesn't hold water. It doesn't make sense,'' Robinson's attorney told jurors.
After Robinson and Jones were arrested in December 2013, Long Beach police said in a statement that a “full-scale criminal investigation'' was started when detectives learned that details of a murder investigation were being leaked -- apparently from someone within the police department.
The prosecution also alleged that Robinson gave Jones information from a report about an assault, and that the former detective went to bat in an effort to have him removed from a gang injunction.
In May 2012, police identified Robinson, a detective in the Youth Services Section of the department's Investigations Bureau, as the alleged mole and placed her under surveillance, according to the LBPD.
After several months, investigators determined that Robinson was leaking case information to Jones, who passed it on to leaders of the gang, police said.
Robinson was placed on administrative leave in July 2012 and stripped of her police powers, according to Long Beach police. Her employment was terminated upon the conclusion of the department's administrative investigation.
“Police department employees are held accountable to the highest standards, and the department takes immediate action to address employee misconduct,'' then-LBPD Chief Jim McDonnell said after Robinson's arrest.
“It is extremely disappointing when the behavior of one individual undermines the public trust that this department works so hard to uphold. We will not tolerate actions that dishonor the badge that we wear so proudly. The men and women of our department work diligently every day to do the right thing and to provide excellent service to our community. The acts of the one shouldn't outweigh the acts of the many,'' he continued.
Outside court, Robinson's lawyer acknowledged that his client “got herself in a situation'' where “mistakes were made.''
“She never had the intent to commit criminal conduct or aid a gang in any way,'' Barnett said. “She loved the community.''
Robinson -- who now works at a youth home that helps girls -- plans to appeal her conviction, according to her attorney.
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