News Releases

July 28, 2022: District Attorney Gascón Seeks Sentence Reduction in Case That Relied on Testimony of Officer Charged With Perjury

Media Relations Division
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Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced today that his office sought the resentencing of Miguel Vargas who was ordered to spend 39 years in state prison after one officer alleged that Vargas assaulted him with a firearm and proceeded to shoot him in response. Vargas suffered multiple gunshot wounds. The officer was unharmed. The officer was later charged with perjury and falsifying a police report in a separate case.

“Officer Reyes has been charged by my office with perjury and the falsification of a police report,” District Attorney Gascón said. “This officer is the only witness to the crime that resulted in Mr. Vargas being sentenced to 39 years in prison. The jury relied on the credibility of this officer. As a result of the pending charges against Reyes and concern that there may have been procedural errors that occurred at trial, we are unable to maintain confidence in the integrity of the assault conviction.

When police officers engage in conduct that violates the public trust, it calls into question the legitimacy of the criminal legal system. In order for the public to have confidence in the system, we need to hold its actors accountable for their misdeeds. When the integrity of a conviction is at issue, continued incarceration is no longer in the interest of justice.”

In 2011, a jury found Vargas guilty of one felony count each of assault on a peace officer with a semiautomatic firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon. Because he had a prior conviction for a residential burglary, Vargas was sentenced to 39 years in prison.

Since that time, the District Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against the Long Beach officer who had arrested Vargas in the assault case.

Officer Dedier Reyes was charged in case BA501509 with one count each of perjury, filing a false report and falsifying a public record in connection with a 2018 case where he and another officer are accused of lying about the circumstances of recovering a handgun that led to the wrong person being arrested. The case against the officer is set for a preliminary hearing on September 9.

Given those circumstances, the District Attorney’s Office reviewed the assault case against Vargas, who has served 12 years of his sentence, and determined that several factors should lead to a sentence reduction.

In the LADA’s motion recommending the recall of Vargas’ sentence, Deputy District Attorney Lara Bazán writes, “Based on the conduct at issue in this case, Mr. Vargas’s age at the time of the crimes, the fact that the only injuries that resulted from the crimes were those suffered by Mr. Vargas, Mr. Vargas’s lack of a violent prior criminal history [], Mr. Vargas’s positive and productive behavior in prison and his apparent rehabilitation [], and LADA’s concern with the integrity of the assault conviction given the criminal charges filed against the only witness to the assault in this case,” a recall and modification of his sentence is in the interests of justice.

Prosecutors recommended that Vargas be resentenced to the maximum term on the possession of a firearm charge, six years, waive sufficient time credits to allow him to be placed on a year of post-release supervision and enter a six-month residential reentry program to allow him to transition back into the community and be provided with the tools he needs to be successful after serving a long term of incarceration. The Court agreed and so ordered.