San Diego, California
A former San Diego County tribal police chief, who oversaw a department and officers who did not have recognized law enforcement authority, pleaded guilty Monday to stealing more than $300,000 from the Manzanita Band of the Kumeyaay Nation.
Anthony Reyes Vazquez, a 49-year-old resident of Camarillo in Ventura County, entered the plea in San Diego federal court, admitting to one count of federal program theft for stealing from the tribe, whose reservation is located in East County, north of Boulevard and the Golden Acorn Casino off Interstate 8.
Vazquez, who is not a member of the tribe, admitted in his plea agreement that he and other members of the Manzanita Tribal Police Department had no authority to enforce laws or identify themselves as law enforcement or peace officers.
Nevertheless, he gave police badges to wealthy individuals — most of whom resided in the Los Angeles area and had no law enforcement experience — in exchange for large payments or donations. The individuals, known as the “VIP Group,” used the badges to obtain privileges typically reserved for law enforcement officers, including carrying concealed weapons…
Defense attorney Michael Zweiback said in a phone interview Monday evening that his client “has accepted full responsibility for his actions and looks forward to sentencing to put this behind him.”