An ex-Santa Ana police cop-turned-unlicensed-private-investigator pleaded guilty today to ripping off his clients to the tune of $187,000 and was immediately sentenced to a year in jail.
Kevin Michael Sianez, 56, of Fountain Valley, accepted a plea bargain offer from Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Fitzgerald, who ordered the defendant to pay back the money he stole from his clients in $5,000 monthly installments, Deputy District Attorney John Christl said.
If Sianez fails to make the payments, he faces four years in prison, the prosecutor said. The defendant's mother indicated she would try to help him pay the restitution, according to Christl, who did not object to the plea bargain.
"My main concern was the victims got their money back," Christl said. "Even if he violates his probation and doesn't pay the $5,000 a month, he'll still be liable for the restitution."
When Sianez was charged in June 2010, he was also accused of soliciting women to have sex with his dog, but prosecutors later dropped those charges in part to spare the women from having to testify, Christl said.
Sianez started his career in law enforcement in 1979 with the since-disbanded Stanton Police Department. He subsequently went to work on the Santa Ana police force, leaving in 1986, according to Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
Since November 2005, Sianez had operated as a private investigator without a license, using such business names as KMS Investigations, Forefront Investigations and 4Front Investigations, according to the first prosecutor on the case, Israel Claustro.
Sianez did little or no work for his clients, and when he subcontracted work out to licensed investigators, he didn't pay them, according to Claustro.
On some occasions, Sianez lied to clients, falsely telling them he did surveillance, and would even make up "facts" of a case off the top of his head, Claustro said.
Sianez also misrepresented his company's reach, telling some customers he had offices across the country when he had just the one location in Fountain Valley with mostly relatives on the payroll, Claustro said.
Sianez intimidated whistleblowers, saying he would use his contacts as a former police officer to file false police reports against them, Claustro said.
-- City News Service