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Wichita man gets probation for helping ex-police officer in bribery scheme

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, at 12:23 p.m.

A Wichita man was sentenced Monday in federal court to two years probation for helping a former Wichita police officer in a scheme to bribe a witness in hopes of keeping the officer from losing her job.

Patrick Melendrez, 40, has already spent five months in jail. He pleaded guilty Aug. 26 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom’s office said.

In his plea, Melendrez admitted that Joletta Vallejo, the ex-police officer, developed a plan and asked him to assist her in bribing a witness to recant statements the witness made about Vallejo to the police department’s professional standards bureau.

Vallejo is set for sentencing Dec. 2 after also pleading guilty to commit wire fraud on Aug. 26.

According to the plea:

On Oct. 16, 2011, two people told Vallejo they were victims of an aggravated robbery, aggravated battery, aggravated kidnapping and attempted first degree murder. They asked Vallejo to report the alleged crimes.

But Vallejo, who was a Wichita police officer from Jan. 9, 2006, to Aug. 24, 2012, didn’t follow the department’s policy in responding and filing their complaints. As a result, the department conducted an internal investigation.

When she was interviewed, she lied to investigators. When she became aware she was going to be fired, she and Melendrez devised a scheme to attempt to keep her job.

On Aug. 22, 2012, Vallejo created a Google Voice number in the name of Melendrez. That day and the next, the number was used to call and text a witness to persuade him to recant his statements to professional standards bureau.

In return, Vallejo and Melendrez offered the witness money. What Vallejo and Melendrez didn’t know was that the witness was cooperating with an undercover investigation.

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rickplumlee.

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