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|Former Officer to Reimburse City For Expenses After Hoax|
|Written by San Fernando Valley Sun|
|Thursday, 29 March 2012 02:55|
VAN NUYS (CNS) – A former Los Angeles school police officer convicted of faking his own shooting near El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills will pay $309,000 to reimburse the city of Los Angeles for expenses related to the bizarre hoax, authorities said.
Jeff Stenroos' lawyer showed up at the Van Nuys courthouse with a check for the full amount but was unable to give it to the city because municipal offices were closed for the Cesar Chavez holiday, Deputy District Attorney Paul Nunez told City News Service.
He said the city would accept the money on Tuesday, March 27.
Stenroos, 31, was convicted on Sept. 12, 2011, of one felony count each of insurance fraud, workers' compensation fraud and preparing false documentary evidence, and one misdemeanor charge of falsely reporting an emergency.
As part of his sentence, he was ordered to pay restitution in installments. But with the lump-sum payment, that will no longer be necessary and Stenroos will be re-sentenced accordingly on April 18, Nunez said.
"He didn't want (the restitution) hanging over his head," the prosecutor explained.
City Councilmember Dennis Zine, who represents the Woodland Hills area, welcomed the payment.
"This sends a strong message that this level of fraud will not be tolerated in Los Angeles," he said.
Stenroos told police on Jan. 19, 2011, that he was shot in the chest while on duty and wearing a protective vest. The shooting prompted a massive police search that dragged on for hours, forcing thousands of students at nine schools to remain locked down in their classrooms – with some forced to use trash cans to go to the bathroom.
"I indeed disgraced the badge and the people who proudly wear it," Stenroos said at his sentencing in December.
Principal Dave Fehte described the day as "horrible" for the students and staff at El Camino Real High.
"We thought something happened, that he had been shot and the gunman was still in area," Fehte said. "We didn't know if there was a gunman on the campus. A SWAT team came in and did a search.
"The Los Angeles school police, LAPD, the Sheriff's department and LAUSD all did an outstanding job in keeping our kids safe. I have nothing but praise for everyone that responded, and helped us in that situation."
Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Richard H. Kirschner sentenced the former officer to five years behind bars, but ruled that he could serve three years of the custody time on supervised probation. With credit for time already served, he was expected to serve about nine more months in custody.
But Nunez said he agreed with the defense that Stenroos would be released later Tuesday, March 27. He noted that the sheriff's department could have released him at any time because he was convicted of nonviolent offenses.
"We felt that his agreement to accept responsibility ... should be reflected in his sentence," Nunez said.
Mike Terry contributed to this report.
|Last Updated on Friday, 30 March 2012 03:12|