Cop’s Perjury Charge Ends Long Beach Man’s 39-Year Sentence

Miguel Vargas spent more than a decade in prison but will be freed now that the officer who testified against him lied in a separate case

A Long Beach man is being released from prison after serving 11 years of a 39-year sentence for assaulting a cop after that officer was allegedly caught lying on a police report in another case, the East Bay Times reports.

Miguel Vargas, 34, was ordered to be released by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Chet Taylor on Thursday, at the request of District Attorney George Gascon. Vargas was convicted in 2011 for the assault of an officer based on the testimony of Officer Dedier Reyes following an incident in which Vargas ran from Reyes and his partner, and was then shot multiple times by both.

After Vargas had served more than a decade of his sentence, both Reyes and another Long Beach officer, David Salcedo, were hit with felony perjury charges in December. The charges involved lying about how they recovered a gun in a 2018 arrest.

Vargas’s lawyer, Matt Kaestner, filed a petition for Vargas to be released from prison as his conviction was heavily reliant on Reyes’ “honest” testimony. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office agreed to abandon Vargas’ assault conviction and resentence him given the circumstances.

“In this case there was a single witness to the assault that was alleged to have occurred and that witness has now been charged in a criminal complaint with felony perjury and falsification of a police report,” Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Lara Bazan wrote in a court brief.

“Additionally, a review of the record in this case has given the LADA concern that there may have been procedural errors at trial, the cumulative impact of which has resulted in LADA’s inability to maintain confidence in the overall integrity of the assault conviction.”

Vargas was “positive and productive” in prison, the D.A.’s office said, and had no history of violent offenses. He will participate in a post-prison support program, Amity Foundation, and will also serve post-release community supervision.

Vargas’ father and brother were outside the courtroom Thursday.

“He’s missed out on a lot,” his brother, Oscar, said. “He didn’t do anything, he just ran. Murderers get less time.”

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