By Henry Lee 6/5/14
Romero Aberin, 31, was arrested in October and charged with extortion under color of authority and receiving a bribe by an executive officer. Aberin has since pleaded no contest to one of those felonies, said his attorney Michael Rains.
Aberin, who resigned from the force after serving for six years, is expected to be sentenced Friday at the Hayward Hall of Justice to probation and “many hours” of community service but no jail time, Rains said.
“Mr. Aberin was an outstanding police officer,” Rains said. “He’s an Army veteran and was deployed overseas in a combat position and made a tragic mistake in this one instance that cost him a job and a career, and he’s paying a substantial price for one instance of admittedly terrible judgment.”
Rains added, “He is anxious and eager to prove to the court and to everybody that he is worthy of a second chance and that he is a good man and is accordingly anxious to fulfill his community service obligations.”
The case stemmed from an investigation in which Aberin interviewed Tammy Spencer, an employee of a clinic, and determined that she had stolen blank prescription pads and forged prescriptions for friends, police said.
Instead of arresting Spencer, Aberin tried to use her as a confidential informant, telling her that she had two weeks to come up with information about the “big fish,” relating to drug trafficking and money laundering, according to police and Spencer’s suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court.
However, Aberin “never notified the department of his actions or intent” and failed to follow policies mandating how officers deal with informants, Hayward police Sgt. Mark Ormsby has said.
Aberin later arranged to meet Spencer at her workplace while he was off-duty and reminded her of what he wanted from her, police said.
“When the victim advised Aberin there was no useful information to give him, he proceeded to ask for cash in exchange to dismiss reporting any criminal activity against the victim,” Ormsby said. “Out of fear and duress, the victim complied.”
Authorities said Spencer gave Aberin $500 that she withdrew from an ATM, while she secretly recorded the interaction on her cell phone. Aberin told her that the investigation was now “closed,” her suit said.
She reported Aberin to the San Leandro Police Department. Aberin admitted to taking the $500 but “contended she provided the money willingly,” investigators said in an affidavit. Spencer was not arrested.
Her suit names the city of Hayward and Aberin and seeks unspecified damages. It alleges civil-rights violations, assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence. The defendants have not responded to the suit in court.