For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
TWO POLICE OFFICERS CHARGED WITH CONSPIRACY VIA TEXT AND PHONE CALLS TO ILLEGALLY DISMISS LEGITIMATE TRAFFIC CITATION
SANTA ANA – Two police officers from different agencies have been charged with conspiring in text messages and phone calls to illegally dismiss a legitimate traffic citation. Erik Michael Krause, 43, and Michael John Zannitto, 46, are each charged with one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and face a sentence ranging from probation up to one year in jail if convicted. Krause and Zannitto are expected to be arraigned June 26, 2012, at 8:30 a.m., Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. The department is to be determined.
At the time of the crime, Krause is accused of being a 22-year veteran of the Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD) and Zannitto is accused of being an 11-year veteran of the Garden Grove Police Department (GGPD). The defendants did not know each other prior to the crime.
On Nov. 9, 2011, Krause is accused of issuing a traffic citation for speeding in the immediate vicinity of a stopped school bus to 32-year-old Jane Doe. He is accused of writing detailed notes regarding the violation on the ticket.
Later that same month, Zannitto is accused of meeting Jane Doe at Knott’s Berry Farm. The defendant was off-duty and not in uniform. During this initial meeting, Zannitto is accused of telling Jane Doe that he could have her traffic citation dismissed.
On Dec. 6, 2011, Zannitto is accused of sending Jane Doe a text message requesting a copy of her citation. On Dec. 13, 2011, Zannitto is accused of receiving a text message from Jane Doe, who works in the alcohol industry, in which she included pictures of alcohol and an offer of free alcohol in exchange for getting the traffic citation dismissed.
On Jan. 20, 2012, Zannitto is accused of receiving a text message from Jane Doe with a picture of the citation issued to her by Krause. Sometime between November 2011 and Jan. 20, 2012, Zannitto is accused of instructing Jane Doe to contest her traffic citation by written declaration.
Sometime between Jan. 20, 2012, and Jan. 25, 2012, Zannitto is accused of contacting a sergeant at HBPD and identifying himself as a GGPD officer. He is accused of falsely stating that his sister had been issued a ticket by Krause and asking to be put in contact with Krause under the pretense of having a question.
On Jan. 25, 2012, Krause is accused of contacting Zannitto and the defendants are accused of discussing the citation. That same day, Jane Doe requested a Trial by Written Declarat