OC Cop Who Targeted Undocumented Workers For Rapes Changes Plea

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Wagner: Scumbag with a badge
Though he was on the verge of retiring after working more than 30 years as a police officer in 2005, Bradley Stewart Wagner couldn't help using his enormous state-given powers on the streets near Anaheim's Disneyland to satisfy his criminal sexual fantasies.

We now know of three Spanish-speaking, undocumented workers who identified an on-duty Wagner as their assailant in a scheme that involved the officer stopping the female drivers late at night, threatening deportation and then using them for rough public sex.

(Wagner was so rough with the women that one of them had to have dental work after he forced her to perform oral sex on him, according to court records.)

We also know the women were telling the truth not just because of solid DNA evidence and eyewitness accounts, but also because in May Wagner and Jennifer Keller, his veteran defense lawyer, admitted in open court that he was guilty before his trial.

Wagner's crimes carried a maximum 11.5-year prison sentence and lifetime sexual predator registration. The plea deal reduced his punishment to just four years of incarceration.

"Are you pleading guilty freely and voluntarily and because you are, in fact, guilty?" Judge Walter Schwarm asked Wagner in open court on May 17.

"Yes," Wagner, who'd left the police department, replied before answering the next five questions each with a single word: "Guilty."

But, according to sexual assault prosecutor Lynda Fernandez, Wagner--who has delayed the formal sentencing date for four consecutive months by claiming medical excuses--now is asking a judge to rescind his admissions. He claims he was high on drugs when he admitted his guilt.

Wagner says he's really innocent.

Fernandez is not impressed, noting that there was no indication that Wagner was under the influence during his confession hearing.

"It would appear that the real reason the defendant wants to withdraw his plea is buyer's remorse and fear," Fernandez wrote in a recent brief opposing Wagner's plea change. "However, a defendant's fear, regret or post-plea apprehension is not a good cause . . . There are three victims in this case. They have been waiting for nearly five years for justice."

The matter is scheduled to be heard in court on October 15.

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly
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