10:56 AM PST, February 15, 2013
A former Huntington Beach police officer was sentenced Friday for conspiring in text messages and phone calls to illegally dismiss a legitimate traffic citation.
Erik Michael Krause, 44, was sentenced to one year of probation and 30 days in jail or completion of 100 hours of community service.
A Garden Grove officer involved in the case, Michael John Zannitto, 47, received the same sentence Jan. 25.
The defendants did not know each other prior to the crime.
Krause was a 22-year department veteran when he issued a traffic citation to a 32-year-old unnamed woman who was allegedly speeding near a stopped school bus. He wrote detailed notes on the ticket on Nov. 9, 2011.
Later that month, Zannitto, who was off-duty, met "Jane Doe" at Knott's Berry Farm and told her he could get her ticket dismissed, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.
Zannitto text messaged the woman the next month asking for a copy of the ticket, and she sent him a message days later of pictures of alcohol and an offer to exchange alcohol for dismissing the ticket, according to the D.A. The woman works in the alcohol industry.
When Jane Doe sent Zannitto a picture of the citation on Jan. 20, 2012, Zannitto told her to contest the citation by written declaration.
Around that time, Zannitto called the Huntington Beach Police Department asking to speak with Krause under the pretense of discussing a ticket for his sister. He identified himself as a Garden Grove police officer, according to the D.A.'s office.
Krause and Zannitto talked about the citation on Jan. 25, 2012, and Zannitto told Jane Doe to request a trial by written declaration with the court, which she did.
Soon after, Krause told Zannitto he would dismiss the woman's citation, which he relayed to Jane Doe via text message on Feb. 3. Zannitto received a text from Jane Doe stating that the two should meet so that she could give him "a bunch of alcohol." Zannitto responded, "Sounds good to me," according to the D.A.
Krause then sent a request to the court that the citation be dismissed and declared he had no notes, despite having written them on Jane Doe's ticket, according to the D.A.
A Huntington Beach lieutenant was suspicious of Krause's declaration and opened an investigation.
— Alicia Lopez