The City of Seal Beach has a couple of bad cops on its police force and refuses to do anything about it.
That is, if you believe a lawsuit recently filed in federal court by a pair of brothers who claim that two police officers planted evidence and lied in court in an attempt to convict them of attempted murder. Here's why:
It all started in September 2008, when brothers Jack Pelenty and James
Pelensky claim a man named Steven Arzola burst into their motor home
and began throwing punches, knocking the glasses right off of Pelenty's
They say Arzola grabbed Pelenty by the belt and as he began to
drag Pelenty outside, Pelensky, acting in self-defense, stabbed Arzola
in the thigh with a pair of scissors before Pelenty then stabbed him in the abdomen with a
When the cops arrived, according to the lawsuit, Arzola said that the
brothers had come out of the motor home wielding knives, trying to
steal his bicycle, and that he was stabbed outside. Pelenty and Pelensky
told the police that wasn't true, and that the stabbing occurred inside
the home after Arzola broke in. The officers, however, arrested the
brothers on charges of attempted murder.
According to the lawsuit, the two police officers filed reports supporting Arzola's side of the story, stating that the knife blade was found outside of the motor home, along with a pack of Pelenty's cigarettes.
The report also stated that neither scissors nor Pelenty's eyeglasses were found inside the home, though the knife handle was located inside.
Six months later, according to the lawsuit, the brothers were acquitted at trial and set free. Now they are accusing the officers of planting evidence and lying under oath during at least two court proceedings.
During the trial, the two officers “were proven to have planted the inculpatory evidence,” states the lawsuit.
“[The cops] knew they, rather than plaintiffs, broke the knife blade from its handle and planted the blade and a package of Marlboro cigarettes outside the motor home to provide false physical evidence supporting Arzola's … claim the stabbings were unjustified, took place outside of the motor home and Arzola had not broken into the motor home.”
Furthermore, the brothers claim that the officers “willfully misled the Orange County District Attorney into believing Plaintiffs had committed” the offense, and that they testified falsely at a preliminary hearing and the trial to “make their case.”
Lastly, as if to add insult to injury, Pelenty and Pelensky claim that the City of Seal Beach has not done a thing about all of this and that neither of the officers “were held to account by their employer….” They are claiming in court that their civil rights were violated and that they were maliciously prosecuted.
So far, we have not heard back from either the Seal Beach City Attorney or the police department.
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.