Erik Michael Krause, Huntington Beach Cop, and Michael John Zannitto, Garden Grove Officer, Allegedly Conspired to Fix Traffic Ticket

Categories: Court, Crime-iny
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Police officers from Garden Grove and Huntington Beach have been charged with conspiring with each other via texts and phone calls to get a legitimate traffic citation dismissed.

Erik Michael Krause, 43 and a 22-year veterans of HBPD, and Michael John Zannitto, a 46-year-old who has been on the Garden Grove force 11 years, each face misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice and sentences up to a year in jail with convictions.

Krause issued a 32-year-old woman a traffic citation for speeding near a stopped school bus on Nov. 9, 2011. Later that same month, Zannitto, who did not know Krause at the time, met the same woman at Knott's Berry Farm. Zannitto was off-duty and not in uniform at the Buena Park theme park, where the woman brought up her traffic ticket.

According to the Orange County District Attorney's office, Zannitto told the woman he could get her ticket "fixed." He is alleged to have texted the woman on Dec. 6, 2011, asking for a copy of her citation, which she sent seven days later. An employee of the alcohol industry, the woman is also said to have included pictures of booze and an offer of free alcohol in exchange for getting the traffic citation dismissed.

In the days leading up to Jan. 20, when Zannitto received a text message from the woman with a photo of the citation Krause issued, Zannitto is accused of instructing her to contest the traffic ticket via written declaration. Some time between then and Jan. 25, Zannitto is accused of contacting a Huntington Beach police sergeant, identifying himself as a Garden Grove police officer and asking to be put in contact with Krause because he had a question about a ticket his "sister" received.

Prosecutors allege Krause and Zannitto discussed the citation on Jan. 25, the same day the woman requested a trial on her citation, paid a $234 fee and contacted Zannitto to confirm she had followed his instructions. Between that day and Feb. 3, Krause is accused of informing Zannitto that he would take care of dismissing the woman's traffic citation.

Zannitto allegedly informed the woman of the break coming her way on Feb. 3, to which she responded they should meet so that she could give him "a bunch of alcohol." Zannitto is accused of replying, "Sounds good to me."

Meanwhile, Krause is alleged to have submitted a false declaration to the Huntington Beach Police Department requesting the citation be dismissed, writing, "Please dismiss in the interest of justice. No notes . . ." Actually, prosecutors allege, he had written detailed notes on the original ticket.

Messages were exchanged between Krause and Zannitto, and Zannitto and the woman, indicating the matter had been taken care of, with the ticketed driver being further informed she would soon receive a refund for the citation payment. But a Huntington Beach police lieutenant became suspicious of Krause's declaration and launched an investigation. Krause's declaration was never filed with the court, and the citation was dismissed because no response to her contesting the ticket was filed.

Huntington Beach ultimately clued the Garden Grove agency into the investigation, and both recommended the district attorney file criminal charges against the officers, who are scheduled to be arraigned June 26 in Santa Ana.

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12 comments
Tparente171
Tparente171

Really? Over kill! And for those of you calling the officers "pigs" well you dont have the courage to do the job. Nobodys perfect in this world , including police officers. Lose their pensions? Come on man! These guys have like 33 years combined protecting the community...You should thank them!

CSmith
CSmith

I understand how you feel, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I always try to put myself in a similar situation and see the other person's point of view.  Doesn't mean I agree with what they did at all.

CSmith
CSmith

It sounded to me as though he was trying to impress a girl by getting her ticket erased and she offered to give him alcohol for compensation.  He didn't ask for in exchange. Honestly, with all of the crime in the world, this seems like a waste of taxpayers money.  Why not just give the cops a suspension and warning and move on.  I'm pretty sure it wouldn't happen again and they are being used as examples to other cops out there.

CSmith
CSmith

wow... that's a little harsh BeatRayBill...

BetaRayBill
BetaRayBill

Damd pigs and their back-door cheap deals, I cant imagine what they would do for drugs and money.  I hope they both get fired.

BetaRayBill
BetaRayBill

I have 50% of the courage on my own. the other 50% comes from a 9mm Glock, a bullet proof vest, and the fact that I can radio for back up if shit gets out of hand, so you best not questiong my courage. 

BetaRayBill
BetaRayBill

Give me a break!  I respect and thank the officers that uphold the law, not the PIGS that circumvent it.  They should know that when they take the oath. They MUST have and keep and intact moral compass.  As far as I m concern they had 33 years to circumvent the law.  They got caught on this one and god only knows what other crap they pulled while they held a "shield". I have the courage to do what they do; however I know I m prone to lie and get my way whenever I can.  I m not moraly fit to wear that uniform, if I did it knowing what my foults are.  I would be just like these two; a common sociopath.

BetaRayBill
BetaRayBill

I disagree. it is a slippery slope; it will escalete to greater crimes once they get away with minor ones. If he wanted to impress the Skank, why didnt he buy her half of dozen roses.  I also disagree with your "warnings and move on". If anything the punisment should be more severe because they know better, yet they violate rules that apply to everyone the same. Trus me. there is taxpayer money being wasted on worse than this.  If they are being used as esamples good, infact take it a little farther.  Give them jail time, terminate their employment, take away their pension.  That will realy make other cops think twice before pulling crap like this. 

Streets
Streets

Are you shittin me? they committed crimes, defrauding the court!  This is dishonesty dude......these so-called hero's need to be fired, and prosecuted! 

BetaRayBill
BetaRayBill

We expect this people to make life and death judgement calls when they are on duty.  They risked their jobs for booze, for booze Smith. They are suposed to inforce the law not circumvet it. 

Streets
Streets

A police officer is arrested everyday in America...............

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