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Attorney sues two officers

Man claims one was having an affair with his wife, leading to an unlawful arrest.

December 17, 2010|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

GLENDALE — An attorney has filed a lawsuit against two Glendale police officers, one of whom he claims was having an affair with his wife, and he says the pair conspired to have him arrested.

The attorney, Robert Yousefian, claims his wife admitted that she was having an affair with Glendale Police Officer Michael Lizarraga, who arrested Yousefian on drug and assault charges in August 2007, according to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Despite "overwhelming evidence" that Yousefian had not committed a crime, Glendale police maliciously investigated him, which led to an improper prosecution that violated his civil rights, the lawsuit claims.

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Yousefian — who was eventually acquitted of all charges filed after a 35-month investigation — filed the lawsuit against his wife, Lizarraga, the city of Glendale and police Det. Petros Kmbikyan, claiming that he was unlawfully incarcerated, maliciously prosecuted, and that his civil rights were violated.

Yousefian's attorney, Mark Geragos, said he had been monitoring the case and never thought it would go to trial because of the alleged affair between Lizarraga, who was the lead police investigator, and his client's wife.

"It's just unbelievable," Geragos said.

"If I were a Glendale resident, I would be marching on Glendale City Hall."

Geragos is also representing a man who won a $1.31-million civil rights judgment against the city for being wrongfully detained for eight months during a murder investigation. The city is evaluating whether to appeal a ruling by a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel upholding the jury's decision.

Calls to the city attorney's office were not returned Thursday, and police officials declined to comment.

At the time of his arrest, Yousefian and his wife were having marital problems, the lawsuit claims.

On Aug. 19, 2007, Yousefian called his in-laws to inquire about the whereabouts of his wife and children after they hadn't been home for an unspecified amount of time, according to the lawsuit, fearing that they may have left him.

When his in-laws came over, they got into an argument and his wife's father allegedly hit him over the head with a cane, according to the lawsuit. Both men were injured in the scuffle, Yousefian claims.

Lizarraga responded to the scene and arrested Yousefian, but did not detain his father-in-law, the lawsuit claims.

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