A San Jose police officer pleaded no contest to four felony charges stemming from fake traffic tickets he wrote against two people involved in a lawsuit with him in 2008.
George Chavez, 51, a 23-year veteran police officer, entered the plea - which essentially is a guilty plea - on Tuesday to three counts of false personation exposing the victim to liability and one count of filing a false report, according to Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Daniel Rothbach.
Chavez could face a penalty ranging from probation to five years in state prison when he is sentenced at a hearing in Superior Court in San Jose on April 3, Rothbach said.
In November, Santa Clara County prosecutors charged Chavez with six felonies alleging that he wrote bogus traffic tickets against two people -- one who lived in Texas at the time -- who were involved in a lawsuit five years ago. An administrative slip-up on the tickets led to an investigation and the officer's arrest.
Prosecutors say that Chavez used his police computer on Oct. 28 to find information about the two out-of-county victims and used what he found to write one fake traffic citation and two fake parking citations, for illegally parking in a handicapped zone. On the traffic citation, prosecutors say Chavez forged the name of the victim whose information he had looked up, and also forged the name of another San Jose police officer as the issuer of the citation.
Police reports show that one victim was Charles Petrie, who lived in Texas when the tickets were written, who was in a motorcycle accident - and ensuing 2008 lawsuit - with Chavez. The other victim of the fake ticket scam was Stephen Dougan, the lawyer representing Chavez at the time, reports show.
The alleged crimes were discovered when the officer whose name Chavez had falsely placed on the traffic citation was notified of the citation to correct an administrative error. That officer recognized that he had not issued the citation, and brought it to the attention of his supervisor. This initiated a police investigation into Chavez, and the parking citations were then discovered from the same date.