"Hey Bobby, we served the search warrant yesterday and everybody was busy taking care of themselves, I got this for you." It was loaded with hundred dollar bills. In an instant, Robert Juarez's life lessons, his parents, his grandmother, his family, his future, all flashed in his mind. "Am I being set up? Are they trying to see if I'm a snitch? If I don't take it my partners might not trust me. If I take it, I've crossed the line," he thought. All of these thoughts raced through his mind as he stood there holding the paper bag.
Robert knew that no matter what, the decision was his to make and his family was to never know. Over time, Robert's crew began to take on an entirely new mission and persona. What started as taking a few bucks to buy new equipment and properly arm themselves, became a relentless search for cash.
They were loose canons.
Robert began to question what they were fighting and why they were doing it. He thought, "What's happened to us?"
In 1989, the Federal Government and Sheriff's Department launched "Operation Big Spender" in an attempt to uncover the theft and corruption that had been rumored to be running rampant. One by one, Robert and his partners were targeted through surveillance and sting operations. In the end, Robert and 16 others were found guilty and sentenced to Federal prison. Robert was found to have taken the least amount of money but was handed the largest prison sentence of all. Throughout the trials, Robert remembered the lessons of both his father and grandmother. He refused to turn informant and point the finger at anyone other than himself. His decisions were his own and he was willing to take the consequence of those decisions like a man.
In 1992, Robert was found guilty and sentenced to a total of 12 years, 4 in custody, 4 years parole and 4 years probation. In August of 1992 he began his prison term at a federal penitentiary in Colorado. By November of that same year, he received divorce papers and lost all contact with his children. Upon his release from prison in 1996, Robert made contact with his kids began the long journey of regaining their trust and confidence.
In 2013, Robert was given the opportunity to share his story with the Los Angeles Police Department, Rampart Division, during their Annual Goal Supervisor Meeting. On that day he was as forthcoming as ever as he offered his unique insight to new and veteran officers alike. He felt as though through all the pain, all of the betrayal, all of the redemption, that was exactly where he was intended to be. With his ex-wife and children in the audience, he witnessed the miracle of his story penetrating the minds of others and making a difference in their future.
On October 15th, 2014 at the LAPD Hollywood Division, Robert will once again retell his story and try to make a difference in the lives of others. The LAPD administration believes that his story can be a valuable tool in their training efforts.
With the current climate of the relations between the community and its officers, the LAPD is taking this aggressive approach at getting in the minds of their officers before it's too late.
Michael was raised by two police officers in LA. His father was involved in the largest scandal in LA history, his mother retired from LAPD. He is now a passionate writer and filmmaker with a desire to make a difference in the world with his films. Author's website Email the author