NORWALK, Calif.—A former Torrance police officer who was convicted for a series of crimes, including kidnapping, false imprisonment, and extortion, committed during his work as a bail agent, was sentenced to 27 years in state prison Nov. 29.
California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said in a statement, “Today’s sentencing sends a strong message that bail agents will be held accountable if they violate California law.”
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Andrew C. Kim denied the defense’s motion for a new trial for Rehan Nazir, along with rejecting the defense’s bid to dismiss a gun enhancement that had been found true involving one of the kidnapping charges.
Mr. Nazir was found guilty May 19 of 17 criminal charges stemming from crimes involving nine victims between 2017 and 2019 in Torrance, Gardena, Manhattan Beach, El Segundo, Rolling Hills Estates, Lakewood, and Long Beach, according to Deputy District Attorney Monique Preoteasa.
The Norwalk jury acquitted the 51-year-old Torrance resident of nine other counts and deadlocked on two charges that were subsequently dismissed.
The prosecutor told the judge that Mr. Nazir did not deserve any leniency, saying he was a former police officer who “knew right from wrong” and “abused his authority over and over and over.”
Defense attorney Joseph Weimortz countered that the prosecution’s request for a 39-year prison term for Mr. Nazir was too high. He noted that the District Attorney’s Office had agreed to a 21-year prison sentence for a man who pleaded no contest to trying to kill Lady Gaga’s dog-walker, who was shot and wounded while walking the singer’s three French bulldogs—two of which were stolen and subsequently recovered.
The case against Mr. Nazir stemmed from an investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Major Crimes Bureau and the California Department of Insurance in connection with allegations that he apprehended bail clients before their required court appearances and threatened to return them to jail if they did not pay him money, or give him property, according to the state Department of Insurance.
Investigators determined that Mr. Nazir employed so-called “bounty hunters” to assist him in locating and apprehending several people that he had bonded out of jail before their required court appearances, according to the Department of Insurance.
Mr. Nazir was terminated by the Torrance Police Department after the District Attorney’s Office determined that he had submitted false information in a report by failing to include documentation about the use of a confidential informant, according to a U.S. District Court ruling in 2012 involving his case against the city.
He went on to work as a bail agent, with the Department of Insurance noting that the defendant’s bail agent license expired in June 2019.
Mr. Nazir has remained behind bars since his arrest by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in July 2019, according to jail records.
Mr. Weimortz told reporters that his client plans to appeal his conviction.
The case has already been before the 2nd District Court of Appeal, which last year ordered Superior Court Judge Lee W. Tsao to re-hear a motion he had denied by the District Attorney’s Office to dismiss certain firearm enhancements against Mr. Nazir as a result of a directive issued by District Attorney George Gascón shortly after his election.
Mr. Weimortz told reporters that the District Attorney’s Office subsequently withdrew its motion to dismiss the firearm allegations. He said it was a “massive amount of hypocrisy on the part of this office” to abandon “what would be fair justice in this case.”
“His status as a former police officer and bail agent means he has no friends,” the defense attorney said.
The prosecutor noted in court that Mr. Tsao indicated he would have denied such a motion even if the District Attorney’s Office supported it because he hadn’t heard the evidence in the case.