OCEANSIDE — A former California Highway Patrol officer and a middle-aged woman will have to stand trial on charges relating to the prosecutor’s allegation that a sexual favor was traded for the dismissal of a traffic infraction, a San Diego Superior Court judge ruled June 24 in a Vista courtroom.
Abram Anthony Carabajal, a retired Oceanside CHP officer, is charged with one felony count each of perjury, receipt of a bribe and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Shirin Zarrindej, of Encino, is charged with subordination of perjury, bribery of a witness and conspiracy to obstruct justice — all felonies.
Both defendants face up to five years four month in prison, if convicted. Judge Runston Maino set a July 9 arraignment hearing for the defendants, at which time their trial date may be set.
Prosecutors allege the two defendants went to Vista Traffic Court on July 1, 2008, for a ticket Carabajal, 52, issued to Zarrindej, 48, that March. Once in front of the judge, and after both defendants had been sworn in, Carabajal asked for the case to be dismissed citing that he never received a subpoena. Following the hearing, the two defendants went to the Guest House Inn on North Coast Highway in Oceanside.
Zarrindej paid for the room; however, Carabajal, who was then married with five children, made the reservation in person the previous day, testified Mona Patel, the hotel’s manager.
Sgt. Tom Greenstone, of the California Highway Patrol, testified he set up an undercover operation with three other officers to investigate Carabajal’s actions that day, in part because of past complaints dating back to 2006 of the officer giving out his personal work number to female motorists that he cited.
Greenstone said the two defendants arrived at the courthouse separately. Following the hearing, he said they spoke for a few seconds in the parking lot and then left for the hotel in separate cars. After about an hour in the hotel room Carabajal left, Greenstone said, and that is when the officers contacted a partially naked Zarrindej in the room.
Zarrindej, whose birthday was on the day of the alleged incident, told the officers she and Carabajal had sex because they were dating, Greenstone said. He said she knew about his wife and kids, as well as nickname Carabajal went by.
Greenstone testified his investigation revealed approximately 13 to 16 hours of phone conversations between the two defendants from March 12, 2008, to July 1, 2008.
Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Dort said Carabajal retired July 2, 2008, after 26 years as CHP officer in Southern California.
Dort said Zarrindej was convicted in 1999 of bribing a witness relating to her arrest in Los Angeles County during a prostitution sting. She was sentenced to 60 days in jail.
Carabajal and Zarrindej remain out of custody on $50,000 bail.